Rhino Poaching Up More Than 9,000 Percent Since 2007
Rhino poaching has become a devastating trend in South Africa in just the past few years, and 2014 was the bloodiest year yet.
A total of 1,215 rhinos were poached last year - up from just 13 in 2007, reported Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa on Thursday. That rate is equivalent to about three killings every day and has skyrocketed along with demand for rhino horn from a growing wealthy population in Asia.
The new figure shows an alarming 21 percent increase in poaching since 2013, when 1,004 rhinos were killed in South Africa.
Rhino horn, which can sell for $30,000 for just one pound on the black market, is erroneously valued as a medicinal treatment for everything from the common cold to cancer.
Drastic efforts are being to made to help stop poachers in their tracks. Technology like drones are being used to monitor the animals, while teams equipped with sniffing dogs have been deployed for their protection. Most recently, more than 100 rhinos were moved to "secure locations" in unspecified neighboring countries in an attempt to keep them out of the crosshairs of poachers.
South Africa remains a dangerous place for rhinos, though it is home to 80 percent of the world's rhino population. And 2015 isn't on track to reverse the epidemic. Since the beginning of January, 49 individuals have already been slaughtered in the country.