Elephant, Rhino Poaching On Rise In Sub-Saharan Africa

Poaching in Sub Saharan Africa is on the rise as more elephants and rhinos are targeted for their tusks and horns respectively.

Armed criminal gangs target these wild animals to take their tusks and horns to Asia to be used to make ornaments and medicines.

On Wednesday night, two armed gangs killed four rhinoceroses for their horns in rural Kenya which is considered the worst rhino poaching incident in the country in more than 25 years.

The spokesman for Kenya Wildlife Service, Mr Paul Mbuya said on Friday that rhino bodies were discovered at two separate sites on the 58,000-acre ranch near Nanyuki, about 200 km north of Nairobi and the poachers had escaped with three of the animals’ eight horns.

The killings take the number of rhinos poached in Kenya so far this year to 22, which leaves just 1,037 rhinos still roaming private wildlife conservancies and KWS national parks, Muya said.

One conservationist told Reuters, “They’ve got high levels of security there, so the implications are that really rhino are not safe anywhere.”

Kenya has emerged as a major transit route for ivory destined for Asian markets from eastern and central Africa in recent years.

Last year, 59 rhinos were poached in Kenya, a country famous for its sprawling Maasai Mara game park and abundant wildlife.

Rhino horn sold on the streets of major Asian cities was last year more valuable than gold or platinum, with traders asking for about $65,000 per kg of rhino horn. A kg of gold is currently worth about $42,920 while a kg of platinum is $48,450.

However, Kenya’s parliament has passed strict anti- poaching laws and the government has beefed up security at parks to stop poaching, which threatens the vital tourism industry.

The country has also started using high-tech surveillance equipment including drones to track poaching gangs and keep tabs on elephants and rhinos roaming its sweeping national parks.

Since this year begun, poachers have killed more than 500 rhinoceroses in South Africa, AFP reports, and wildlife officials fear that at this rate the country is on course to break its 2013 record of 1,004 rhino deaths, which had been the highest recorded in the past seven years.

Approximately 25,000 rhinos exist in the world today, and South Africa is home to 80 percent of the world population.

Most of the killing takes place in Kruger National Park, a renowned safari spot where 351 rhinos have been poached since January 2014.

Poaching in Africa has risen in the past decade, reports say, because of the appetite for rhino horn in Asia.

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