By Chris Spillane
Rhinoceros poaching in South Africa has surged at least 42 percent this year with nearly a 20th of the local herd killed as the demand for their horns, which is falsely believed to cure cancer and boost sexual prowess, continued to rise.
So far 946 rhinos have been poached in 2013, exceeding the 668 animals killed last year, the Department of Environmental Affairs said in an e-mailed statement today. Three hundred and thirty people have been arrested in 2013 for poaching-related offenses compared with 267 last year.
Kruger National Park, an area the size of Israel that borders Mozambique, was the region most affected by poaching with 573 of the animals killed, the department said. The country’s Limpopo province was the second highest with 106.
South Africa is militarizing its force of park rangers as poachers kill more rhinos to feed a market for horns in Vietnam and China. White and black rhinos were brought back from the brink of extinction in South Africa in the 1960s to a population of close to 20,000, about 90 percent of the global rhino population.
Most of them are the larger white rhinos, which can weigh more than two metric tons.
To contact the reporter on this story: Christopher Spillane in Johannesburg at firstname.lastname@example.org