17 Jan 2014:
More Than 1,000 Rhinos
Poached in 2013, South African Officials Say
More than 1,000 rhinos were illegally killed in South Africa last year, a record total and an increase of more than 50 percent from 2012, South African officials say
. South Africa is home to nearly all of the world's 20,000 rhinos, which are targeted by poachers
because their horns are highly valued and believed to contain medicinal properties. Although those claims are scientifically unfounded, demand from increasingly wealthy consumers in China and Vietnam has driven the price of rhino horns to over $65,000 per kilogram — more valuable than gold, platinum, or cocaine. South Africa has tried to stem the crisis by training park rangers to use arms, drones, and helicopters
, but those anti-poaching efforts have shown limited success. The number of rhinos poached in 2012 also increased by 50 percent over 2011 totals, and 37 rhinos have been poached so far in 2014, officials report. Most of the killings are taking place in South Africa's famed and supposedly well-protected Kruger National Park, where 606 rhinos were killed last year and 425 in 2012.