White rhino in Kruger National Park. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
In the first four months of 2015, poachers killed 393 rhinos in South Africa, the epicenter of the rhino poaching crisis. This is an 18 percent rise from last year, which saw 1,215 rhinos butchered in total. Like previous years, the biggest hotspot was Kruger National Park where 290 rhinos have died so far.
Poachers are slaughtering rhinos for their horns, which are in high demand in East Asian countries like Vietnam and China where they are considered a curative.
As the poaching rate continues to rise, however, South Africa said it has been arresting more poachers.
“As at the end of April last year, a total of 96 people had been arrested for poaching. By the end of April this year 132 people were arrested for rhino-poaching related activities,” said South Africa’s Environmental Affairs Minister, Edna Molewa.
South Africa is home to both white rhinos (Ceratotherium simum) and black rhinos (Diceros bicornis). White rhinos are currently considered Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List, while black rhinos are listed as Critically Endangered.