Rhino poaching in South Africa increases in 2023

By Thomson Reuters Feb 27, 2024 | 3:03 AM

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa recorded 499 rhinos poached in 2023, 51 more than the previous year, despite efforts to protect the animals, the government said on Tuesday.

South Africa is home to nearly half of the critically-endangered black rhino population in Africa and to the world’s largest population of near-threatened white rhinos.

Rhinos are poached for their horns, which are used in east Asian countries for making traditional medicines and jewellery.

In 2023, 406 rhinos were killed on state properties and 93 on privately owned parks, reserves and farms, South Africa’s Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment said in a statement.

“The pressure again has been felt in the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province with Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park facing the brunt of poaching cases,” environment minister Barbara Creecy said.

“While KZN recorded 49 arrests and 13 firearms seized, multi-disciplinary teams continue to work tirelessly in an attempt to slow this relentless pressure.”

Kruger National Park recorded a 37% decrease from 2022 with 78 rhinos poached in 2023. No rhinos were poached in any other national parks.

Rhino poaching often involves international criminal syndicates which rely on the help of local poachers and collude with park rangers.

South Africa’s environment ministry said last year it was increasing healthcare, training and counselling services for rangers to discourage them from assisting the poachers.

(Reporting by Nellie Peyton and Bhargav Acharya, editing by Ed Osmond)