Rhino poaching in South Africa rebounded by 50% in the first half of the year, compared to the same period in 2020, when the activity was severely curbed by health restrictions against the coronavirus epidemic, South Africa’s environment department announced on Saturday.
In six months, 249 rhinos were illegally killed in a country that hosts the world’s largest white rhino population, up from 166 in the first half of 2020.
“Although this number is higher than the number of rhinos killed for their horns last year at the same time, it is lower than the 318 rhinos killed by poachers in the first six months of 2019,” the ministry said.
In 2020, only 394 rhinos had been killed, the lowest number since 2011, as the introduction of strict limitations on travel, especially international travel, curbed illegal hunting.
Rhino poaching – of which the vast Kruger National Park was the main scene in the first half of the year – involves both local poachers and international criminal organizations that smuggle the valuable horns, often to Asia where demand remains high.