A record 1,020 rhinos have been poached in South Africa this year, the government said yesterday, scuppering multiple efforts by authorities to curb the slaughter of the endangered species.
The vast Kruger National Park, has been hit the hardest by poachers, with 672 killed inside the park, which is roughly the size of Wales. Last year, 1,004 beasts were poached in parks across the country.
Demand for rhinoceros horn -- which is made of keratin, which is also found in hair and nails -- has skyrocketed in recent years, largely driven by the market in Asia, where the powdered horn is valued for its supposed medicinal properties.
South African National Parks (SANParks), which manages the country's parks, described the poaching statistics as "horrific" but maintained that they were not "fighting a losing battle". South Africa is home to around 20,000 rhinos, some 80 percent of the world population.