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South African park cracks down on poaching

Monday, April 23, 2012 - 01:42

April 24 - Armed rangers patrol South Africa's Pilansberg National Park to combat alarming rise in rhino poaching. Lindsey Parietti reports.

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Men survey a South African game reserve. But this is no safari. Wearing camouflage and armed with guns, they are searching for poachers. A dramatic increase in rhino poaching prompted Pilansberg National Park to hire 20 armed rangers specially trained to catch and even kill poachers. A decade ago, South Africa was losing about 15 rhinos a year. In 2011, poachers claimed 448 of the animals. Park official and former policeman Rusty Hustler helps gather bullets, DNA and other evidence when a dead rhino is found. (SOUNDBITE) (English) RESOURCE PROTECTION AND MONITORING MANAGER OF THE NORTH WEST PARK BOARD, RUSTY HUSTLER, SAYING: "We have constant patrols, we have had blokes specially trained and we purchasing sophisticated equipment to assist at night time, and then we have aerial patrols that go out and yes its just a matter of hoping that we bump into them." But even when they find evidence, it's not easy to track down the culprits. (SOUNDBITE) (English) RESOURCE PROTECTION AND MONITORING MANAGER OF THE NORTH WEST PARK BOARD, RUSTY HUSTLER, SAYING: "If we pick up a carcass that's a day old then at least we can find tracks and do back tracking etcetera. A lot of our carcasses we're picking up are two to three days old so your evidence could have been tampered with, with the animals and it could be lost because of that." These extreme measures reflect the seriousness of the problem: believed in Asia to be a cure or prevention for cancer, the street value of rhinoceros horns has soared to about 65,000 US dollars a kilo - that makes it more expensive than gold, platinum and - in many cases - cocaine. Lindsey Parietti, Reuters

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South African park cracks down on poaching

Monday, April 23, 2012 - 01:42