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Within the first two weeks of December, poachers in South Africa have killed 24 rhinos after a quiet period during the pandemic.

Rhino carcasses were found scattered throughout four provinces, with seven rhinos found dead in Kruger National Park, six in KwaZulu-Natal, and seven in Mpumalanga. Four more rhinos were found at a game reserve, including one that was pregnant. A fifth rhino was found still alive with a gunshot wound and is currently being cared for.

Nine people have been arrested for the rhino killings, but there could also be more individuals who were involved.

Richard Emslie, a former scientific officer of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, said, “Poverty is driving a lot of the people who are recruited as poachers to go into the parks. If there are economic difficulties, then that’s obviously going to be exacerbated. One of the challenges is to economically empower people living in these rural communities not just thinking in terms of hard law enforcement and anti-poaching in the parks.”

The number of rhino poaching has been driven up significantly as the demand for rhino horns in Asia has made it more valuable than gold. In 2020, 394 rhinos were poached for their horn despite the fact that the globe was in a pandemic lockdown.

This instance shows the severity of the rhino horn trade and just how many rhinos poachers are willing to kill for their horns. At this rate, the species could go extinct very quickly if we do not do something about it.

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