At least 428 rhino killed

The Department of Environmental Affairs says the Kruger Park remains the hardest hit.

More rhino killed for their horns. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The Department of Environmental Affairs says the rhino death toll has risen to 428.

The Kruger National Park remains the hardest hit with 267 rhino lost to poachers this year.

"Since January, 122 alleged rhino poachers had been arrested. 57 of them were caught in the Kruger. Five people who received rhino horns were arrested,"says Environmental Affairs spokesperson Albi Modise.

Earlier in 2013, South Africa and Vietnam signed an action plan to assist South African authorities in apprehending poachers and smugglers more effectively especially at airports.

Last week, Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa met with her tourism counterpart in Mozambique to end the trade of ivory over the border and to stop poachers from seeking refuge in that country.

Modise says the department is implementing stricter standards in the trophy hunting system.

"We have, as part of interventions by government, been closing possible loopholes in the space of legal hunting because there might be pseudo-hunters who masquerade as trophy hunters."

Modise adds the trophy hunting of rhinos will not be completely eradicated because the department has found that this legal form of hunting has not contributed to the ongoing rhino poaching crisis.

At least 668 rhino were poached in 2012.

The illegal trade is also fuelled by the demand of rhino horn in some Asian countries as many believe it can cure most ailments.