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Rhino Poaching in South Africa Climbs to Record on Asian Demand

Rhino Poaching in South Africa Climbs to Record
Lam Tak-fai, the Acting Head of Ports and Maritime Command holds up a Rhinoceros horn in Hong Kong's Customs and Excise Department Offices on November 15, 2011. Hong Kong Customs on November 14, 2011, seized 33 unmanifested rhinoceros horns, 758 ivory chopsticks and 127 ivory bracelets, worth about 17.4 million HKD (2.23 Million USD), inside a container shipped to Hong Kong from Cape Town, South Africa. Photographer: aaron tam/AFP/Getty Images

Rhinoceros poaching in South Africa climbed to a record for a second year in 2011 amid growing demand from Asia, where the animal’s horns are used in medicine.

As many as 405 rhinos have been killed so far this year, 22 percent more than in 2010, the South African National Parks authority said in an e-mailed statement today.

Most of the animals were killed in the Kruger National Park and in the country’s Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal provinces, the authority said. The number of arrests related to poaching increased 27 percent to 210, it said.

South Africa, home to 93 percent of Africa’s rhino population, met with representatives from Vietnam in September to address growing demand for rhino horns in Asia, where they are used for their supposed medicinal properties, including as a purported cure for cancer.

The Javan rhino, one of three Asian species, is now extinct in Vietnam after the last one was found dead in October, according to the World Wildlife Fund. The Indian and Sumatran rhinos make up the other Asian species.

White rhinos weigh as much as 2.7 metric tons (5,952 pounds) while black rhinos weigh up to 1.35 tons.

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