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Rhino horn poaching declines for first time in 3 years

In 2015, 1,175 of the animals were killed, that's 40 less than the previous year.

White rhino. Picture: Big Game Parks.

JOHANNESBURG - The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is immensely relieved rhino poaching is on the decline, but says authorities mustn't become complacent.

The number of rhinos poached for their horns in the country has fallen slightly for the first time since in almost a decade.

In 2015, 1,175 of the animals were killed, that's 40 less than the previous year.

The WWF says the decrease is encouraging for those involved in the fight against rhino killings.

The organisation's Joe Shaw says this is South Africa's first decrease in rhino poaching since 2007.

"There is at least a stabilisation and I think this is very encouraging."

But she says combat strategies must be intensified.

"We can't get complacent. There is still a loss of three rhinos a day and there's still a lot of work to be done to bring this down to an acceptable level."

The minister reveals the latest figures just a day after the high court dismissed government's application to appeal against the legalisation of domestic sale of rhino horn.