Rhino poaching down a third during lockdown in South Africa

The number of rhinos killed in South Africa last year dropped 33 percent, figures showed, partly helped by a coronavirus national lockdown which severely limited movement by poachers.

But the gains were marginally reversed when movement restrictions were loosened.

At least 394 rhinos were slaughtered in 2020, down from 594 recorded the previous year, the Environment Minister said.

Most of the rhinos were killed in the Kruger National Park, a tourist magnet bordering Mozambique.

South Africa, home to nearly 80 percent of the world’s rhinos, has seen its poaching numbers steadily decrease for the sixth straight year.

But poachers, fueled by a market for rhino horns in Asia, where they are used in traditional medicine or as a claimed aphrodisiac, have continued to mount an onslaught on the species.

Conservationists and opposition politicians say the latest figures ignore an overall decline in the rhinoceros population.

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