The number of rhinos killed for their horns in South Africa has been reduced for a fifth consecutive year as authorities tighten their grip on poachers, the environment ministry said Monday.
A total of 594 rhinos were killed across South Africa in 2019 compared to 769 in 2018, bringing the number down by 175, Environment Minister Barbara Creecy said in a statement.
“A decline in poaching for five consecutive years is a reflection of the diligent work of the men and women who put their lives on the line daily to combat rhino poaching, often coming into direct contact with ruthless poachers,” Creecy said.
She added that the decline can be attributed to several strategies implemented by the government, including the use of technology that helps in information collection and sharing among law enforcement authorities regarding activities of poachers.
Creecy also said improved capabilities to react to poaching incidents such as better situational awareness, the involvement of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), donors and good regional cooperation has helped curb poaching incidents.
African rhinos are killed daily for their horns in South Africa. Rhino horns are in high demand in some Asian countries, where they are used for traditional medicines and as a status symbol for the wealthy.
Currently, there are less than 30,000 African rhinos remaining, with the biggest population in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, where the highest incidents of poaching occur.
In 2019, a total of 327 rhinos were killed by poachers in the park alone.
-31 elephants killed in 2019
Meanwhile, 31 elephants were killed in South Africa in 2019, according to the environment ministry.
“This is a decrease in the number of elephants poached in 2018, when 71 were killed for their tusks,” it said in a statement.
The ministry also said a number of arrests and prosecutions were conducted in 2019 with links to rhino poaching and illicit rhino trade.
“From January to December 2019, 178 alleged poachers were arrested in Kruger National Park. At a national level, 332 arrests were effected in respect of both rhino poaching and rhino horn trafficking .A total of 85 firearms were recovered during the year,” the statement said.