This was revealed in an interview with the spokesperson of the Department of Environmental Affairs, Albi Modise, on April 22nd, which marks World Earth Day, also referred to as International Mother Earth Day.
This year’s theme is Protect Our Species. In line with this, Modise acknowledges poaching is still very much a global issue, with many African countries, including Botswana, Kenya and South Africa, being targeted for elephant and rhino horn. The spokesperson noted, however, that some strides are being made in the fight against rhino poaching. South Africa, which is home to about 80% of the world's rhino population, has been hit most severely. In 2018, 769 rhinos were poached in South Africa alone. More than 7 100 animals have been killed over the past ten years.
The recent arrests of two men near Hartbeespoort Dam in the North West province by the Hawks are the most recent successes. The suspects, 61-year-old Petrus Stephanus Steyn and 57-year-old Clive John Melville, are believed to have been smuggling rhino horn to the far east where it is a sought after product. They have appeared in the Brits Magistrate’s Court almost a week ago exactly on charges of illegal trade in rhino horn. They were found in possession of 180 rhino horns, weighing 150 kg.