147 rhino poachers arrested so far this year
The number of alleged rhino poachers arrested in South Africa this year now stands at 147, the environmental affairs department said on Wednesday.
Sixty-four were caught in the Kruger National Park, spokeswoman Eleanor Momberg said. The most arrests, 33, were made in April.
At the end of 2012, 267 arrests were recorded, 73 of them in the Kruger National Park.
Since the start of the year, 536 rhino had been killed for their horns, with the park remaining the main target.
"A total of 334 rhino have been poached in the Kruger National Park in the past seven months..., 56 rhino have been poached in Limpopo."
In the North West, 55 offences were recorded, and in KwaZulu-Natal, 47.
According to research released on July 24 South Africa's rhino population would rapidly decline in the next three years if it was not protected and poaching was not eradicated.
At current poaching levels, rhino numbers would significantly decline by 2016, and possibly earlier in the Kruger National Park, said SA National Parks former CEO Mavuso Msimang, who headed the research.
Msimang said although live birth rates exceeded death rates, more stringent measures should be introduced to protect rhino.
The report, titled Rhino Issue Management Process, recommended greater political will from authorities, a central funding mechanism to fight poaching, harsher sentences to deter criminals, and evaluating the rhino horn trade with other countries, especially in Asia, where the horn was in demand.