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South Africa moves rhinos after record year of poaching

By Danielle Haynes
South Africa moves rhinos after record year of poaching
South Africa has moved 100 rhinos out of the country and intends to move some 200 more after a record 1,215 of the animals were poached in 2014. File photo by Ken Bohn/San Diego Zoo. | License Photo

PRETORIA, South Africa, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- South Africa has moved 100 rhinos out of the country and intends to move some 200 more after a record 1,215 of the animals were poached in 2014.

Environment Minister Edna Molewa told reporters Thursday the number of rhinos killed in 2014 represents a 21 percent increase compared to the previous year. Records have been set in poaching in each of the last few years.

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The animals are killed for their horns, which are ground up and used for medicinal purposes in countries like China and Vietnam. The horns can fetch up to $30,000 per pound.

"The organized transnational illicit trade in rhino horn undermines our efforts," Molewa said. "We therefore have to ensure that we continue to work together in stepping up all the measures that we have adopted."

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About two-thirds of the animals killed in South Africa in 2014 came from Kruger National Park.

Molewa said the government has moved about 100 rhinos out of the park to locations outside of the country where poaching laws are more strictly enforced. Those locations are being kept secret in an effort to protect the animals.

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"Through this method we aim to create rhino strongholds, areas where rhino can be cost-effectively protected while applying conservation husbandry to maximize population," Molewa said.

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Another 200 are expected to be moved in 2015. Advocacy group Rhinos Without Borders says it costs $45,000 to transport and monitor the animals after they've been released.

Kruger National Park is home to about 9,000 rhinos. Nationwide, South Africa has about 18,900 white rhinos and 2,068 black rhinos.

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