Issued on: 07/31/2021 – 16:28
At least 249 rhinos were killed in South Africa in the first six months of this year, the environment minister said Saturday, driven in part by easing lockdown restrictions that increased the movement of poachers.
South Africa is home to nearly 80 percent of the world’s rhinos, but their horns are valued in traditional medicine in Asia, and poachers have continued to attack the species.
That number represents 83 more rhinoceros kills compared to the same period in 2020.
Most of the carnage took place in the famous Kruger National Park, where 132 rhinos were killed.
“From January to the end of June 2021, 249 rhinos were poached for their horn in South Africa,” said Barbara Creecy, Minister for the Environment, Forestry and Fisheries.
Creecy said the lifting of the strict lockdown “saw an increase in rhino poaching in the first six months of 2021,” with marked increases in poaching pressures in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Free State provinces, where large numbers of private rhino reserves are found .
The ministry said it is watching increased pressure on private rhino reserves as they play a significant role in rhino conservation.
Rhinos are killed for their horns, which are highly valued across Asia for traditional and medicinal uses.
The trade is lucrative and thousands of rhinos have been poached in South Africa in the past decade.
Usually sold in powder form, rhinoceros horn is made primarily of keratin, the same substance found in human fingernails.
© 2021 AFP