Rhinos may be moved out of Kruger Park to stop poachers

2014-07-22 08:39

South Africa, home to 80% of the world’s rhinos, is considering moving some of the animals out of Kruger National Park to keep poachers at bay.

“The board is considering moving them to other parks,” said Gert Dry, a board member for SANParks, which runs Kruger, yesterday. “The numbers and final plans have not been concluded.”

Kruger Park has about 700 security guards protecting 8 500 to 12 000 rhinos, SANParks said in an e-mailed response to questions.

Poachers had killed 351 rhinos there by July 10 this year. This was almost two a day, according to the Department of Environmental Affairs. The number of rhinos poached across South Africa so far this year has risen to 558 compared with 1 004 during all of last year - and six in 2000.

The country’s rhino population of about 20 000 will start to decline in 2016 if present rates of poaching continue, according to the government. Globally, the population is “critically endangered” according to the London-based Save the Rhino conservation group.

Rhinos are killed for their horns, the value of which has surged in Asian countries such as China and Vietnam. Buyers there seek rhino horn for its perceived medicinal purposes.

Poachers have slaughtered more rhinos to meet demand as the price in Asia has approached as much as $60 000 (R637 000) a pound.

“I don’t think putting up fences and having more guards alone will be able to ultimately safeguard the rhino,” said Dry. “There must be an international solution to rhino poaching.”

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