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S. African Rhino Poaching Deaths Rise

Jul 19, 2010

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Reported by

Frank James

The 2010 World Cup was a boon for South Africa's reputation.

But the harsh realities of sub-Saharan Africa seem to always have a way of reasserting themselves.

Among those hard truths is the increasing toll poaching is taking on the small population of remaining rhinoceroses in South Africa.

The British newspaper, the Guardian, reports that the pace of killings of South African rhinos is outpacing last year's, with 136 rhinos killed for their horns which are used in medicine in Asia and for dagger handles in the Middle East. That compares with 129 rhinos killed last year.

An excerpt:

South African wildlife experts are calling for urgent action against poachers after the last female rhinoceros in a popular game reserve near Johannesburg bled to death after having its horn hacked off.

Wildlife officials say poaching for the prized horns has now reached an all-time high. "Last year, 129 rhinos were killed for their horns in South Africa. This year, we have already had 136 deaths," said Japie Mostert, chief game ranger at the 1,500-hectare Krugersdorp game reserve.

The gang used tranquilliser guns and a helicopter to bring down the nine-year-old rhino cow. Her distraught calf was moved to a nearby estate where it was introduced to two other orphaned white rhinos.

It's important to note that these deaths are taking place in the very places where the animals are supposed to be the safest, game parks with wardens on patrol.

But it's near impossible for the wardens to police criminals who swoop in by helicopter for the kill.

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