Johannesburg (AP) – Poachers killed more than 1,000 rhinos in South Africa last year. The number of illegal animals fell only slightly from 1054 in the previous year to 1028, according to South Africa’s Environment Minister Edna Molewa.
Particularly affected in 2017 was again popular with tourists Kruger National Park in the east of the country, where 505 rhinos were killed.
“It is clear … that we will continue to achieve success in the fight against rhino poaching, but we are equally aware that the fight is far from over,” said Molewa. The number of suspected poachers and horn smugglers arrested nationwide dropped from 680 to 518. In the Kruger Park alone, 220 weapons were seized during the arrests, according to the minister.
In Africa, there are an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 rhinos in the wild – most of them live in South Africa. Experts continue to see the high poaching numbers with concern. The 2017 “marginally lower number of rhinos killed” is unacceptably high, said Tom Milliken of the conservation organization Traffic. With almost three rhinos killed each day, the crisis continues unhindered. “
Horn of rhinos trade has been banned internationally for some four decades. On the black market, customers are reportedly paying tens of thousands of euros per kilogram. Especially in China and Vietnam, the horn is in demand: it is attributed to aphrodisiac and healing powers. The horn consists of keratin, the same material as human fingernails.