Rhino Poaching in South Africa Drops as Elephants Become Targets

Poachers killed fewer rhinos in South Africa since the start of the year as the government stepped up efforts to protect the animals, spurring an increase in the number of elephants which are being illegally hunted.

Nationally, 702 rhino were poached in the country between January and July, down from 796 a year earlier, the Department of Environmental Affairs said on its website. In the Kruger National Park, 458 rhinos were killed between January and the end of August, down from 557 a year ago, it said.

“There may be indications however that the success of anti-poaching efforts in the Kruger National Park has led to poaching syndicates shifting operations to other provinces,” Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa said. “We have also begun experiencing an increase in elephant poaching.”

Since January, 36 elephants have been illegally killed in the Kruger National Park, Molewa said.

Rhino horn demand has climbed in Asian nations, including China and Vietnam, because of a belief that they can cure diseases such as cancer and even ease a hangover. The price of the horns is as much as $95,000 per kilogram in Asia, more valuable than gold.

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