Rhino Poaching Hits New High And Prompts Extinction Concerns

South African rhino poaching has hit a new high. In spite of continuous conservation efforts, rhino horn hunting has increased nearly “500 percent” since 2007. In 2012, approximately 668 South African rhinos were illegally killed.

The World Wildlife Fund calls notes the rhino poaching has increased 50 percent since 2011. Advancements in hunting and poaching methods are credited with the increase in rhino deaths and the illegal animal trade, National Geographic reports.

Helicopters, nigh vision goggles, and high-powered rifles have replaced the more primitive spears and bows and arrows previously used in rhino poaching. The nearly 2,000 pound South African rhino horns sell on the black market for a very hefty price. The Asian belief that the rhino horns cure diseases means the illegally obtained body parts garner a price tag comparable to that of cocaine in the United States.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) African Rhino Program head Joseph Okori had this to say about poaching of the South African rhino:

“The African rhino is under serious threat from poachers who have intensified their search of rhino for their horns since 2007, driven by growing market demands in Asia.”

Biologists in Africa feel that the rhino killing could outpace the birth of new calves and risk driving the species to extinction. The African black rhino and the Sumatran rhino populations are both believed to be vulnerable due to increased poaching.

As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the WWF ranked Vietnam the worst country for crimes against wildlife last year. The designation came not long after some rare Javan rhinoceros were killed by poachers.