Saturday, July 2, 2011

South Africa: 173 rhinos killed between January and June

South African environmental affairs Minister Edna Molewa says 173 rhinos were killed by poachers around the country between January 1 this year and June 3.

Molewa said over the same period, 121 poachers had been caught.

Of the 173 rhinos slaughtered for their horns, 120 were killed in the Kruger National Park (KNP) -- four of them black rhinos, the rest white.

A further 21 were killed in Limpopo, 11 in KwaZulu-Natal, seven in the Eastern Cape, five in Gauteng, four in North West, three in Mpumalanga, and one each in the Free State and Western Cape.

"We are recording many successes in this war against rhino poaching. The number of arrests this year alone gives an indication that our efforts to fight this are bearing results," she said.

On efforts to curb the crime, Molewa said SA National Defence Force troops were patrolling the KNP's border with Mozambique.

In May this year, an SANDF patrol in the Houtbosrand area of the KNP was shot at by three poachers. The troops returned fire and killed them.

An AK-47 assault rifle, a Bruno .458 hunting rifle, two axes and two cellphones were found in the men's possession.

Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu warned at the time the army would "fight fire with fire", saying they would not allow criminals to operate in the country's national parks.

The SANDF started guarding the park's borders in April last year, in an effort to curb the surge in rhino poaching.

Sisulu said by the end of 2013, the SANDF would be patrolling the full length of South Africa's land borders with Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Namibia.


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