October 5th, 2012 by Rhishja Cota-Larson
South Africa has now lost at least 430 rhinos to the illegal rhino horn trade since the start of 2012, according to figures released by the Department of Environmental Affairs.
258 of the rhinos were killed in Kruger National Park, and 205 people have been arrested this year in South Africa for rhino crimes.
India was also hit hard by the scourge, with five rhinos gunned down during a three-day period earlier this week. Two of these rhinos lived for a short time, and then succumbed to their brutal injuries. NDTV reports that 17 rhinos have been massacred in India since the beginning of the year.
In addition, three rhino horn smugglers were arrested by police in Assam’s Karbi Anglong district. Authorities suspect the trio is linked to the recent rhino killings in and around Kaziranga National Park, where flooding has made the pachyderms vulnerable while they seek higher ground.
Meanwhile, 14 people in Nepal have been sentenced to prison for rhino crimes. The Supreme Court of Nepal upheld the 2008 guilty verdicts of Sher Bahadur Ghalan, Shanta Bahadur Tamang, Suman Tamang, Jeet Bahadur Tamang, and Hasta Bahadur Tamang, sentencing each to ten years in prison for killing a rhino in Chitwan National Park. Nine rhino horn traders — Indra Bahadur Ghalan, Aaitaram Bote, Harka Bahadur Khulal, Baldev Chaudhary, Rana Bahadur Kumal, Rajesh Ghale, Pemba Lama, Purna Bahadur Gurung and Man Bahadur Syang — received five-year prison terms.
According to Nepali news portal MyRepublica.com, all 14 people were convicted by Chitwan National Park on January 14th, 2008, followed by the Hetauda Appellate Court´s verdict issued on July 14, 2008, which was upheld.
Despite the immediate crisis, the International Rhino Foundation notes that both species of African rhino, along with Asia’s greater one-horned rhino, are still increasing in numbers. However, IRF warns that populations could begin to decline if the current rate of killing is allowed to continue.
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