Thursday, June 9, 2011

Poachers arrested in Swazi rhino killing

Poachers arrested in Swazi rhino killing

Swazi police have arrested two suspected poachers in connection with the country’s first rhino killing in 20 years, a spokeswoman said.

A traditional healer and his nephew were arrested after rangers at Hlane Royal National Park at the weekend discovered a female white rhino lying in a pool of blood with its horn hacked off, police spokeswoman Wendy Hleta said.

“We have enough evidence to charge these two for now,” she told AFP.

Mike Richardson, spokesman for the company that runs Swaziland’s national parks, said it was difficult to quantify the loss.

“She is a breeding animal and represents a sizeable percentage of our rhino population. What is probably more damaging is that our defences have been cracked. That air of invincibility has taken a hammering.”

He added that weapons found with the alleged poachers looked “as if the rifles were brought in from over the border. They seem to be pretty high tech. The horn is believed to have moved into South Africa.”

Swaziland does not release the size of its rhino population, but conservationists have put the number at around 100.

Demand for the horn is fuelled by its use in Asian traditional medicine. Poaching has soared in neighbouring South Africa, home to 21,000 rhinos, with one of the animals killed almost every day last year.


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