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02/28/2013

And the culling of rhinos continues...

Rhino
(Anupam Nath/AP)

At least two rhinos are still being killed every day in Africa, says a new report by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The rate at which poachers are targeting African countries could threaten the rhino's long-term survival.  

"Well-organized and well-funded crime syndicates are feeding the growing black market for rhino horn," said a statement from Mike Knight who chairs a team of experts within IUCN Special Survival Commission. 

Countries like China, Vietnam and Thailand use rhino horn in traditional medicines.

The high levels of consumption, and especially the escalating demand in Vietnam, threaten to reverse the conservation gains achieved over the last two decades, said Knight.

The agency said that the two principal rhino species, the Black and the White rhinos, total some 26,000 in Africa --there are just 5,055 Black rhinos and 20,405 White ones.

South Africa's Kruger National Park near the Mozambique border is home to the world's largest rhino population. A total of 668 rhinos were illegally killed in South Africa last year, according to the IUCN.

Earlier in February, the Wildlife Conservation Society said Gabon's Minkebe National Park lost over 11,000 elephants due to poaching since 2002. Gabon is home to over half of Africa's elephant population but with the recent poaching numbers, WCS experts said the population has been cut in half. 


Raveena Aulakh is the Toronto Star's environment reporter. She is intrigued by climate change and its impact, now and long-term. Follow her on Twitter @raveenaaulakh

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