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Rhino poaching epidemic underway in South Africa

In July national parks in South Africa lost 26 white rhinos and one black rhino to poachers, bringing the total rhinos lost in South Africa to 84 this year alone.

The situation has led Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica to call for an integrative approach to the crisis.

“The minister and the MECs expressed their political support to provincial authorities, but also called for an integrated anti-rhino poaching strategy incorporating all rhino range provinces and the department of environmental affairs,” the ministry said in a statement

Critically Endangered black rhino in a sanctuary. Photo by: Rob Roy.

Authorities have so far arrested twenty-two people suspected of being involved in the poaching.

Thirty-three of the rhinos were poached in world famous Kruger National Park, many on the Mozambique side of the park. Poachers arrested for these crimes have all been Mozambican, according to David Mabunda, chief executive of South Africa National Parks.

The white rhino is considered Near Threatened by the IUCN. However, one of its subspecies the Northern White Rhino is thought to have gone extinct in 2006 in the wild and only two remain in zoos.

The black rhino is classified as Critically Endangered with around 4,000 in the wild. Before poaching in the twentieth century, this species was thought to be several hundred thousands strong.

Both rhinos are poached for their horns which are used in traditional medicines in China and as handles for ceremonial daggers in the Middle East.

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