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Thu Apr 17 20:42:56 SAST 2014

Rhino death toll hits 618 with 257 arrested for poaching

Sapa | 10 December, 2012 12:40
Longhorn, a 24-year-old cow, was among the eight rhino slaughtered by poachers at Finfoot Lake Reserve, North West. The cavity in the body is the result of a postmortem examination in search of ballistic evidence. File photo.
Image by: DANIEL BORN

A total of 618 rhinos have been poached in South Africa so far this year, Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said on Monday.

"As the toll mounts, it is clear that everyone has a critical role to play in this war against poaching," Molewa said after signing a memorandum of understanding with her Vietnamese counterpart.

According to a statement from Molewa's office, the pact was signed in Hanoi with Vietnamese Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Dr Cao Duc Phat.

It was meant to promote co-operation in biodiversity between the two countries, and was particularly aimed at curbing rhino poaching.

The provinces hardest hit by poaching were Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, and the North West.

The total number of arrests in connection with the poaching totalled 257.

"The continued slaughter of the rhino is a cause for concern," Molewa said.

"South Africa continues to vigorously implement various interventions in a bid to curb poaching... we believe that this latest development at an international level is crucial to effectively deal with the current scourge."

Poaching and the illegal hunting of rhinos was largely driven by the international demand for rhino horn, she said.

"The signing of this... adds to our arsenal against rhino poaching and increases the number of role players working towards curbing rhino poaching."

The agreement would remain in force for five years, after which it might be extended with the consent of both countries.

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Thu Apr 17 20:42:56 SAST 2014 ::