Officials mull options to stop increasing poaching in South Africa.
South Africa rhino poaching is on a fast pace this year and is starting to get out of control for wildlife officials.
Bloomberg Business reports that as of last Thursday, 749 rhinos have been poached so far this year. By comparison, 716 were poached to that point the year prior.
The biggest hot spot for poaching in South Africa is the iconic Kruger National Park. Of the 749 rhinos poached this year, 544 were killed within the boundaries of the gigantic park.
Concern is growing as poachers increasingly target rhinos because of a huge black market demand for their horns from China and Vietnam. Many Asian nations believe that the horns can be used to cure cancer and other medical problems.
South African Environmental affairs minister Edna Molewa acknowledged the problem and said South Africa is currently working on conservation awareness programs with these nations.
Despite increasing arrests, including the bust of eight poachers in Kruger National Park in a single night a month ago, it seems to have done little to stop the increase in poaching incidents.
“The problem of people attempting to poach our rhinos is intensifying,” Molewa told reporters. “The number of arrests inside Kruger National Park was 138 for this year compared with 81 arrests for the same period last year.”
South Africa’s government is looking at several options to help slow poaching. One option is to flood the market by selling off the government’s rhino horn stockpile. Officials are also reportedly looking into the feasibility of legalizing rhino horn trade.
South Africa saw 1,215 rhinos poached last year. Officials will have to come up with some answers in order to stop rhinos from being poached into extinction.