725 rhinos and counting

2013-10-10 00:00

EZEMVELO KZN Wildlife said there is hope that the rhino poaching war will be won soon, as there has been an increase in the number of poachers arrested.

Ezemvelo KZN spokesperson Musa Mntambo told The Witness that 70 rhinos have been killed in KwaZulu-Natal this year. This is 10% of the total rhinos poached in South Africa this year.

With a little over two and a half months left in the year, 725 rhinos have been killed in the country since January. The figure overshadows 668, the number of rhinos killed for the entire year in 2012.

“We are definitely getting there, but we are going to need all the support we can get to ensure that we win this war,” said Mntambo.

In the province, 45 poachers have been arrested since the beginning of the year.

South Africa is home to 83% of Africa’s rhinos and 73% of all wild rhinos worldwide.

Last week, two rhinos narrowly escaped death at a Weenen game reserve after having their horns hacked off by poachers.

Ezemvelo’s Rhino Intervention co- ordinator Cedric Coetzee said state vets examined the wounds and moved them to Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park’s bomas where their progress will be observed daily.

Coetzee said the Tembe/Ndumo pilot project will determine if Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s remaining rhino populations would have their horns treated with poison and indelible dye. The trial programme began at Tembe and Ndumo last month and its success will determine whether it is extended to other game reserves.

According to the Save the Rhino website, the poaching epidemic picked up in 2008 when 83 rhinos were killed, up from the previous year’s 13. In 2000, only six rhinos were killed for their horns in the entire country.

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