South Africa Says Rhino Poaching Arrests Top 200 in 1 Year

Posted November 4th, 2011 at 3:25 am (UTC-5)
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South Africa says authorities arrested more than 200 suspected rhino poachers during a one year period ending in March.

A Department of Environmental Affairs report says 92 of the 214 suspects were arrested in Kruger National Park, home to the largest population of black and white rhinos in South Africa.

It says 16 suspected poachers were also killed during armed confrontations between April 2010 and March of this year.

On Thursday, the World Wildlife Fund said rhino poaching in South Africa has hit an all-time high, with 341 rhinos killed so far this year.

The WWF says 333 were poached during all of 2010.

South Africa National Parks predicts the number of rhinos poached in 2011 will likely top 400.

South Africa has unveiled a program that uses DNA technology to track rhinos and their parts in order to help convict poachers.

The rhinos are usually killed for their horns. The horns are highly prized in Southeast Asia, where they are often ground up and used in traditional medicines or as aphrodisiacs.

The Switzerland-based International Union for Conservation of Nature says more than 90 percent of the world's rhino population is in South Africa.

The WWF said Thursday that Vietnam has become the biggest consumer of illegal rhino horn products. The organization reported a week ago that rhinos have gone extinct in Vietnam, in part because of a false rumor that rhino horn can cure cancer.