April 5, 2012 / 2:05 PM / 8 years ago

In S.Africa's Kruger Park, rhino sightings now a secret

KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, South Africa (Reuters) - If you see a rhino in South Africa’s famed Kruger National Park, you can tell your friends or even tweet it.

But just don’t say where you saw it.

Rhinos are now excluded from a Kruger tradition of visitors posting sightings of animals on maps of the park, which are displayed in the reception areas of its rest camps.

The reason: a surge of poaching of the animals, which by this week had seen at least 159 rhinos killed so far in 2012 in South Africa. In Kruger alone 95 of the horned beasts have been taken this year.

“We are trying to remove anything that might help the poachers,” said park spokesman William Mabasa.

The animals are being slaughtered for their horns to meet soaring demand in China and Southeast Asia, where they are ground into powder for use in traditional medicines.

At Kruger’s Skukuza Camp, a map on Wednesday was speckled with coloured dots denoting sightings by visitors on game drives: red for lion, green for buffalo, blue for elephant, or yellow for the extremely rare wild dog.

In the past orange would have marked a rhino sighting and may again someday, if the authorities can win the war on poaching.

Reporting by Ed Stoddard; editing by Patricia Reaney

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