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S. Africa: record number of rhinos killed in 2014

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The number of rhinos killed in South Africa last year jumped by nearly a fifth, marking a new record for poaching, driven by Asian demand for rhino horn which is more valuable by weight than gold.

A total of 1,215 rhinos were killed in 2014, statistics published by the Environment Ministry on Thursday showed, in what environmentalists said was now a “do or die situation.”

The number of rhinos killed by poachers — 827 of which were in the country’s famous Kruger national park in 2014 — has risen rapidly in the last decade.

Just 13 were killed in 2007, but demand from a growing affluent middle class in Asia has seen new records broken every year, with 1,020 killed in 2013. In Vietnam, ground horn sold as rhino horn wine is erroneously viewed to have health benefits and is seen as a status symbol.

Tom Milliken, elephant and rhino programme leader at illegal wildlife trade NGO Traffic, said: “Another year of poaching like 2014 and it becomes increasingly difficult to see a positive conservation future for South African rhinos.

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