A total of 451 rhinos were killed in 2021 in South Africa, fifteen percent higher than the year before, the country’s environment department said on Tuesday.
Of the total, 327 animals were slaughtered in government national parks and 124 were killed in private game reserves.
The government added that the deaths were still 24% lower than in the pre-pandemic year 2019. In that year, most rhinos were killed in the large Kruger National Park.
After the government increased its security at the park, poachers turned to kill animals in private reserves in the northern Limpopo and eastern Mpumalanga provinces bordering Mozambique.
“The steady decline in rhino poaching in Kruger Park is related to an increase in the intensity of anti-poaching activities,” the department said in a statement.
South Africa is home to almost 80 percent of the world’s rhinos. Their horns are wanted in Asia, and poachers continue to kill the animals. Some public national parks and private reserves try to protect their white and black rhinos by sawing off their horns to discourage poachers.
The southern white rhino is classified as near-threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with only 10,000 mature individuals remaining. There are only two female northern white rhinos left in the world; the species will be extinct when they die.
The black rhino is listed as critically endangered, with around 3100 mature individuals left in the world.
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