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Zuma vows to strengthen efforts against rhino poaching

President Jacob Zuma on Friday vowed to strengthen regional efforts to crack down on rhino poaching, including calling in Interpol, after the number of incidents doubled in South Africa this year.

Speaking during a working visit by Mozambican President Armando Guebuza, Zuma said regional campaigns were needed to fight poaching, especially in the cross-border park between their two countries and Zimbabwe.

“We, however, noted with great concern the reported incidents of rhino poaching in the park,” Zuma said. “We have agreed on the need to elevate rhino poaching to the Southern African Development Community for the development of and implementation of a regional response strategy.

“At a bilateral level, however, we have decided to take certain measures, including the training of rangers as well as the involvement of Interpol and regional security clusters,” he added.

The 35 000-square-kilometer cross-border park opened in 2002, but rhinos in the reserve have come under threat from poachers who kill them and chop off their horns.

Rhino poaching has spiked dramatically in South Africa since 2008, with 227 slaughtered so far this year.

Poachers are using high-tech methods to snare the animals, including hovering above the parks by helicopter to shoot and tranquilise them with darts from hunting rifles.

The horns are removed while the giant animals lay unconscious. The horns are sold largely to China and Vietnam for the traditional medicine market. — AFP

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