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Record Number of Rhinos Killed in South Africa Last Year

Poachers killed a record number of rhinos in South Africa last year, according to government figures released Thursday (January 22). A total of 1,215 rhinos were poached in 2014 — ten times the number killed in 2009. During the first three weeks of 2015, 49 rhinos have already been poached in South Africa. 

Although rhinos were recovering in Africa since 1993, increasing demand across China and Vietnam in recent years is reversing that trend. Belief in its purported health benefits, including treatment for cancer, fever reduction and other health problems, remains relatively high in Vietnam, despite the fact that rhino horn is composed of compressed hair and keratin, the same protein found in fingernails. 

Recent estimates value rhino horn at nearly $30,000 a pound, more than the current value of gold.

A majority of rhinos were killed South Africa’s Kruger National Park, one of the continent’s largest reserves, despite multi-million dollar investments in improved enforcement there. Faced with the unprecedented crisis, officials on Thursday announced intensified relocation efforts for vulnerable populations: 100 rhinos have already been moved to unspecified neighboring states, and plans are underway to relocate an additional 200 animals from Kruger to “strongholds” elsewhere in the country where poaching is less pervasive. 

What is WildAid doing? 

WildAid’s goal is to measurably reduce the demand for rhino horn in China and Vietnam by countering myths of medicinal benefits and raising awareness of the poaching crisis in Africa. Read more on our rhino campaign here.