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Johannesburg - A total of 82 rhino have been poached in the country since January 1, the water and environmental affairs department said on Wednesday.
“The Kruger National Park remains the hardest hit by rhino poachers this year, having lost 61 rhinos to mostly foreign poachers,” it said in a statement.
“Twenty one poachers have been arrested, 14 of them in the Kruger National Park.”
Eight rhino had been poached in KwaZulu-Natal, six in North West, four in Mpumalanga and three in Limpopo.
Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said she had noted with concern the increase in rhino poaching and was confident SA National Parks is on the “verge of a turnaround given the present initiatives implemented against poaching”.
Molewa said the fact that rhino poaching was being fought at various levels meant there was a continued investment.
She said she planned to talk to regional groups about the matter at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in March.
Molewa is expected to meet her Mozambican counterpart on February 22, for a follow-up to last year's meeting on rhino safety and security co-operation.
The department said Molewa welcomed the recent signing of a declaration by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam banning the import of all white and black rhino specimens.
“The South African government welcomes the announcement by the government of Vietnam that the prohibition on the export, import and trade of specimens of rhino will come into effect,” Molewa said.
There was a memorandum of understanding between South Africa and Vietnam to curb the scourge of rhino poaching and to promote co-operation in law enforcement, and compliance with CITES, the department said.
“We believe that this latest development is important for South Africa and will assist our law enforcement authorities to effectively deal with the current scourge of poaching,” Molewa said.
In 2012, a total of 668 rhino were killed in South Africa for their horns. - Sapa