South Africa rhino poaching plunges during pandemic

By Antony Sguazzin

JOHANNESBURG – South Africa said the number of rhinos killed by poachers fell by 53% in the first half of the year as the coronavirus outbreak limited the movement of people.

In the six months to the end of June, 166 of the animals were poached, the environment department said in a statement on Friday. Stronger measures also had an effect, it said.

“With the Covid-19-associated countrywide law-enforcement measures to restrict movement, the decline in rhino poaching compared with the same period last year is striking,” Environment Minister Barbara Creecy said in the statement. “In the Kruger National Park during April, no rhinos were killed in the Intensive Protection Zone for the first time in 10 years.”

South Africa is home to about 20,000 white rhinos and accounts for more the 90% of the world population of the species. Demand for the animals’ horns in East Asia, where they are believe to cure cancer and boost virility, has led to a sharp increase in poaching over the last decade.

White rhinos are the most common of the world’s five species. South Africa also has a small population of black rhinos.

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