South African officials say 135 endangered rhinoceros have been killed by poachers so far this year, about a third of the number killed during all of 2011.
The government's environment department said in a statement Monday it is encouraged that arrests and convictions for rhino poaching appear to be increasing in 2012. There were 89 arrests in the first eleven weeks of this year.
The department says the worst hit area was the eastern Kruger wildlife park where 75 rhinos were killed for their horn since Jan. 1.
The government says despite a worldwide campaign against its use in traditional medicines in Asia, powdered rhino horn - almost identical to keratin in human finger nails - has soared in price on the illegal market since claims in Vietnam that it has cured cancer. - Sapa-AP