Poachers pushing rhinos to extinction

Poachers seeking horn for traditional medicines are driving once-thriving rhinoceros populations in Asia and Africa toward extinction, according to global nature-protection groups. Illegal slaughter of the endangered animals is accelerating, Reuters quoted the organisations as saying, with rhino death rates reaching a 15-year high amid increased activities by Asian-based criminal gangs feeding the demand for horn.

“Illegal rhino-horn trade to destinations in Asia is driving the killing, with growing evidence of involvement of Vietnamese, Chinese and Thai nationals in the illegal procurement and transport of the horn out of Africa,” according to WWF International, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Traffic, their affiliated wildlife trade-monitoring network.

In a briefing for the United Nations-sponsored CITES agency, which works to prevent trade in endangered species, the groups said that South Africa and Zimbabwe were experiencing a surge in poaching. Twelve animals now were being slaughtered each month in the two countries alone, they said.

In India, 10 rhinos reportedly had been killed for horn since January and at least seven in Nepal, out of a total population of just 2,400 for the two countries.

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