Poachers killed 259 rhinos in the first half of 2022, compared to 249 in the first half of 2021, the country’s environment ministry said. The ministry said poachers have started hunting in private parks.
South Africa has about half of the African continent’s endangered black rhino population. It is also home to the world’s largest population of white rhinos, whose status is “near-threatened”.
Conservation efforts and surveillance have increased in the Kruger National Park, leading poachers to shift to hunting in private reserves and the KwaZulu-Natal province, where most of the rhinos in 2022 were killed, the ministry said.
South Africa-born cricket star and rhino conservationist Kevin Pietersen told news agency Reuters it was “catastrophic” to see the decline in numbers. Pietersen founded the charity Save our Rhino Africa/India (SORAI), which rescues abandoned, injured or orphaned rhinos.
Illegal trafficking of rhinos involves both local poachers and international criminal organizations, who smuggle the horns across borders. In Asia, the demand for rhino horns is particularly high, according to the ministry.
“We’re staring at one of Africa’s Big Five going extinct if we don’t pause this serious situation somehow,” Pietersen said.