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Rhino poachers on retreat in SA’s Kruger National Park

Image: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

By Antony Sguazzin, Bloomberg | February 7, 2023

The country has been battling rampant poaching for more than a decade and lost more than 1 000 of the animals every year from 2013 until 2017.

Of the 448 rhinos illegally killed last year, 124 were in the Kruger National Park, the Department of Forestry Fisheries and the Environment said in a statement on Monday. That’s 40% less than in 2021. However, the number of killings in the south eastern KwaZulu-Natal province more than doubled to 244, with the Hluhluwe iMfolozi park, which is run by the province, specifically targeted.

No rhino were poached in any other national park than the Kruger, a reserve the size of Israel on the border with Mozambique.

“The steady decline in rhino poaching in national parks is related to the relentless war that has been waged by our fearsome anti-poaching machinery as well as a comprehensive dehorning program,” said Barbara Creecy, the environment minister, in the statement. “We believe that if provincial authorities in KwaZulu-Natal follow our model, they will be able to significantly curb rhino poaching in their provincial parks before it is too late.”

Armed rangers hunt down poachers in the Kruger National Park and in many parts of the country rhinos have had their horns sawn off to make them less of a target for poachers, who kill the animals and sell their horns to buyers in east Asia. There they are ground down into potions, erroneously believed to cure cancer and boost virility.

South Africa is home to most of the world’s white rhinos and some black rhinos. The country has been battling rampant poaching for more than a decade and lost more than 1,000 of the animals every year from 2013 until 2017.

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