Skip to main content

Rhino poaching hits record numbers in South Africa

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 9:16 AM EDT, Wed October 17, 2012
So far, 455 African rhinos have been killed this year for their horns based on a belief that they can cure cancer.
So far, 455 African rhinos have been killed this year for their horns based on a belief that they can cure cancer.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • So far, 455 African rhinos have been killed this year, officials say
  • The number surpasses last year's killings
  • "It is critical for the South African government to engage with consumer countries," expert says

(CNN) -- A record number of rhinos have been killed this year in South Africa, fueled by the belief that their horns can cure cancer.

An unsubstantiated belief on their healing powers is spreading in southeast Asia, sending clients paying top dollar for traditional cures, officials said.

So far, 455 African rhinos have been killed this year, according to government officials. A total of 448 rhinos were killed last year.

"It is critical for the South African government to engage with consumer countries and to fight against international syndicates involved in illegal rhino horn trade," said Dr. Jo Shaw, rhino coordinator for the WWF in South Africa.

Poaching on the rise in Africa
The war against rhino poaching

One of the nations linked to the trade is Vietnam and a collaboration action between the two against illegal rhino horn trade remains unsigned, according to Shaw.

"There is also an urgent need for law enforcement actions by neighboring countries implicated as transit routes for illegal trade in rhino horn," the coordinator said.

Conservation group Save the Rhino estimates that there are 25,000 rhinos in Africa. Of those, about 21,000 live in South Africa, the group says.

"Rhino numbers continue to grow in South Africa as more rhinos are being born than are dying, even when poaching mortalities are taken into account," Shaw said. "However, we are approaching the critical tipping point where rhino numbers go into decline and would undermine conservation efforts."

South African officials say they have arrested nearly 200 people linked to the trade, including about 20 who allegedly serve as couriers.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:26 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
updated 7:09 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
updated 1:01 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
updated 10:48 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
updated 12:07 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
updated 7:15 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
updated 7:06 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
updated 7:37 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
updated 2:18 AM EST, Fri February 8, 2013
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
ADVERTISEMENT