South African police launch manhunt after poachers kill two rhinos

FILE: Rhino calves sleep under a tree at the Rhino Orphanage in an undisclosed location near Mokopane, Limpopo province, South Africa, on January 9, 2021. /CFP

South African police have launched a manhunt for poachers who shot two rhinos dead and dehorned them on Wednesday evening.

The poachers sneaked into a safari farm in the Paterson area in the Eastern Cape where the animals were harbored.

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“It is alleged that the two adult rhinos (male and female) were last spotted during an afternoon game drive on the 1st of February and were discovered dead the following afternoon. Both horns from both carcasses were hacked off. A case of illegal hunting of a protected animal without a permit is under investigation,” SABC quotes Police spokesperson Priscilla Naidu to say.

The killing of the rhinos is a setback to the country’s efforts to eliminate poaching and restore the number of endangered animals.

Despite strict laws and heavy punishments prescribed for poachers, rhino killings are still reported frequently in the country, attributed to a ready and lucrative black market.

In 2021, a total of 451 rhinos were poached in South Africa, with 2019 recording a much higher number of 594 killings.

To boost its efforts to combat wildlife trafficking, South Africa widened its international partnerships to transit and end user countries in Southeast Asia.

The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation said last year the partnerships had seen an increase in arrests made against rhino smugglers.

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