By Sipho Kings
A YouTube video of a dying rhino lying in the Kruger National Park is the latest in a series of videos about the plight of local animals to find its way on to the internet.
It depicts a bleeding rhino with its horns hacked off, still alive and struggling to breathe. The man who posted it, who lists himself as an ex-ranger, said the rhino had to be euthanised because of the pain it was in.
The video comes at a time when the environmental affairs department released figures showing 249 rhino had been poached so far this year.
Last year, a record 668 were poached, mainly in the Kruger National Park. They are smuggled to Asia where their horns are believed to have medicinal value. This myth has driven the huge growth in poaching over the last six years.
The government and private companies have pumped funds into conserving rhino, and the army has also been on anti-poaching missions in Kruger. But conservationists project as many as 800 rhino could still be killed this year.
Edna Molewa, the minister of environmental affairs, recently signed memorandums of understanding with the Chinese and Vietnamese governments on biodiversity issues. Stopping rhino poaching and trade was a key part of these.
She also said her department was considering rebuilding the fence that used to run between South Africa and Mozambique in the Kruger National Park. This would help stop poachers and animals moving between the two, she said.
A total of 78 people have been arrested this year on allegations of being involved in poaching.
And at the same time there have been growing concerns that the park's elephant population, which has escaped the continental poaching of elephants, will be the next target for poachers. More....