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South Africa slowly turning tide against rhino poaching, says minister: The Standard



South Africa slowly turning tide against rhino poaching. [Reuters]

Bringing local communities into mainstream conservation is vital to South African efforts aimed at curbing rhino poaching that has steadily declined from a peak of 1,215 animals killed five years ago, the environmental minister said on Sunday.

 South Africa, with one of the world's largest rhino populations, is battling organized crime syndicates targeting its national and private parks as strong demand in Asian markets, where the rhino horn is prized as an ingredient in traditional medicines, fuels the slaughter.
While they are believed to be aphrodisiac properties, scientists say this is not so.
Barbara Creecy, the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, said: "We want to redouble our efforts to make sure the communities benefit from conservation and the biodiversity economy so they are not vulnerable to recruitment by syndicated poaching operations." said in a statement on World Rhino Day.

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She said rhino poaching has continued to decline, as part of tougher court prosecution and anti-poaching strategies, such as specialized sniffer dogs to help detect smuggled horns.
From January to June 201

9, the number of rhino poached countrywide stood at 318, compared to 386 killed during the same period last year, Creecy said.
More than half of the rhinos killed this year – 190 animals – were found in South Africa's vast Kruger National Park in the north of the country, where a total of 1,202 incursions and poaching activities were reported in the first six months to June.

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We are proud to say that our efforts as a government, as private citizens of the rhino, and as concerned citizens, are paying dividends as we continue to implement the Strategic Approach to the Management of rhino, "said Creecy.
80% of an estimated global population of over 20,000 rhinoceroses, making it the center of the poaching crisis. There is an international ban on the trade in rhino horn.

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