Thursday 28 January 2016

South Africa stabilises rhino poaching as threat spreads across the region

South Africa today announced its first decrease in rhino poaching since 2007, but this slight improvement was offset by an alarming increase in the number of rhinos killed in neighbouring countries.

South Africa’s Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, revealed that 1,175 rhinos were lost in South Africa in 2015 – slightly down from the record 1,215 in the previous year.

However, at least 130 rhinos were poached in Namibia and Zimbabwe during the same period – up almost 200 percent from 2014.

“After seven years of increases, a decline in the rate of rhino poaching in South Africa is encouraging and the result of the government's leadership and the tireless efforts of so many committed people,” said Carlos Drews, WWF Director, Global Species Programme. “However, the rate remains unacceptably high – and soaring poaching levels in Namibia and Zimbabwe are cause for serious concern”.

While poachers are still focusing primarily on South Africa, official figures from Namibia and Zimbabwe suggest that criminal networks are expanding their reach across the region – targeting rhinos in previously secure areas.

In Namibia, 80 rhinos were lost to poachers in 2015 – up from 25 in 2014 and just 4 in 2013. In Zimbabwe, 50 animals were killed – more than double the previous year’s total.

These three countries are home to nearly 95 per cent of all remaining African rhinos.

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