Today South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs released new figures stating that a total of 1,054 rhinos were slaughtered for their horns in 2016. This is a 10% decline from 2015 when 1,175 rhinos where illegally killed.

This is the second straight year of decline, but the numbers are alarmingly high and conservationists are still very worried about the rhinos future.

A majority of the rhinos, 662, where killed in the Kruger Park, which is a decline from 826 the previous year, despite increased criminal activity in the park.

“These criminal gangs are armed to the teeth, well-funded and part of transnational syndicates who will stop at nothing to get their hands on rhino horn. This decrease can be attributed to the efforts of our men and women on the ground, especially our rangers”  the ministry said.

However, it was noted that outside of Kruger, the number of rhinos killed had unfortunately increased in some provinces.

The South African Police (SAPS) reported that a total of 680 poachers and people directly linked to rhino-poaching activities had been arrested nationally, which is a significant increase from 317 arrests in 2015.

South Africa is home to 80% of the worlds rhino population, which has led them to be on the frontline of the horn-poaching crisis. A crisis is fuelled by the growing demand of rhino horn in Asian countries, mainly Vietnam and China. It is thought, although rhino horn has no scientific medical benefits, that the horn can cure a wide range of conditions.

Although the numbers seem to be going the right way, three rhinos are killed every day, that is three rhinos too much and Wildhood will stop at nothing to help get that number down to zero.

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Read South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs full report here

Photo credit:  TRAFFIC-The Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network