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According to Save The Rhino, the rhino poaching crisis in Africa began in 2008 and worsened until 2015, with an increasing number of rhinos being killed for their horns.

This has, thankfully, dipped pretty significantly over the past few years, but one-thousand and twenty-eight rhinos were killed in 2017 and seven-hundred and sixty-nine were killed last year in South Africa alone.

The numbers are still high and it's not okay.

Last week, a group of men illegally entered the Kruger National Park in South Africa with the intention to poach rhinos there. One of the men, however, didn't make it out of the park alive. According to the South African National Parks agency, he was attacked by an elephant and then devoured by lions!

Read more on the story and the problem of poaching here!

 

Earlier this year, the South African Department of Environmental Affairs released the number of rhinos that were poached in 2018.

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The numbers show a decrease from the previous year of two-hundred and fifty-nine. So things are looking up.

But poaching is still a huge problem in the country.

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South Africa is home to nearly 80% of the world’s rhinos and it's been hit the hardest by poachers.

2014 was the peak for rhino poaching.

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In 2015 alone, one-thousand and fifteen rhinos were killed for their horns in South Africa. One-thousand and fifteen!

And despite the positive decrease in numbers...

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Statistics show that if the 2018 trend continued this year, eighty-eight rhinos would have already been poached so far this year. That really puts things in perspective...

The decline in numbers is probably due to the anti-poaching work that is taking place in South Africa at the moment.

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Teams such as the African Wildlife Defence Force (AWDF) are taking action against poaching.

AWDF provide rangers, who act as " frontline troops" in the fight against poaching.

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On their website, they state, "Our rangers get a Legionnaire style training to perform covert and difficult missions. They endure more rigorous physical training after basic training. And must stay in top physical condition at all the time. Or they may lose their ranger status."

Work like this is taking effect.

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It's getting harder for poachers to find their prey and to get close enough to the animals to take what they want.

But we need more action to take place.

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Save the Rhino says that this means, "supporting anti-poaching work, but also good overall management of rhino populations by ensuring high-quality biological management."

Kruger National Park is a 19,485 km2 protected habitat.

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It is the most popular place for poachers to visit and has suffered horrible losses over the years. More than half of South Africa's poaching losses occur at the park. This is where the incident that happened last week occurred. Keep scrolling to hear more on that!

The problem at Kruger National Park has been recognized.

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The government and international donors have been helping to secure the park, bringing funding and resources to the fight against poaching.

The poaching problem actually began in Zimbabwe.

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The socio-economic and political climate drove people to poach rhinos for their horns, which they could then go on to sell. When rhinos in Zimbabwe were no longer as easy to find and hunt, poachers moved to South Africa to make their money.

Kenya and Namibia have also suffered huge losses as a consequence of poaching.

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Kenya lost fifty-nine animals in 2013, which accounted for 5% of the national population. Namibia lost eighty rhinos in 2015. In the whole of Africa, the total number of rhinos poached in 2015 was higher than it had been in twenty years!

Want to help?

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Save the Rhino has a whole range of ways that you can get involved in the fight against poaching! From fundraising to memberships, there are so many ways that we can help to save the rhinos.

On to the story of one poacher that didn't make it back with his prize...

On Saturday, the South African Police Service reported that a human skull had been found at Kruger National Park.

The skull was thought to have belonged to a poacher.

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The SA Police Service said that the skull was "that of a man reportedly killed by an elephant while poaching with his accomplices" on Monday April 1st.

The men illegally entered the park.

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According to the South African National Parks agency, a group of men entered the Kruger National Park with the intention to poach rhinos. One of the men was killed by an elephant while they were out there.

His remains were left for a passer-by to see.

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The man's accomplices left his remains in the Crocodile bridge section of the park for a passer-by to come across. Lovely! They also called the family of the deceased to let them know what happened.

The family called Don English, Skukuza Regional Ranger at KNP.

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And Don English assured the family that he would do everything in his power to find the remains of the man to help to bring them closure.

He organized a search party.

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According to the South African National Parks agency, "Rangers on foot, accompanied by members of the KNP Airwing flew over the area that was described by the family but due to failing light, could not locate the body."

The search started back up again on Thursday morning.

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And they had more information about the location of the attack provided by the deceased man's accomplices, who were arrested on Wednesday evening (they are currently in custody and will have their day in court sometime soon). The remains of the body were found that day and "indications found at the scene suggested that a pride of lions had devoured the remains leaving only a human skull and a pair of pants."

"Devoured by a pride of lions."

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Yikes.

Managing Executive of the KNP, Glenn Phillips, has commented on the incident:

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"Entering Kruger National Park illegally and on foot is not wise, it holds many dangers and this incident is evidence of that. It is very sad to see the daughters of the diseased mourning the loss of their father, and worse still, only being able to recover very little of his remains."

How has the internet reacted to the story?

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Well, a lot of people seem to think that the poacher got his comeuppance.

And Corey Feldman was one of those people.

That is one intense reaction.

This Twitter-user seems to agree with Feldman.

Should we be celebrating blood for blood like this?

Not everyone agrees that we should.

Writer, Saladin Ahmed, seems to understand why poachers do what they do; it's because there's no money, and poaching can sometimes seem like the only option. He added, "people really want to act like desperate folks struggling in the face of oppressive poverty are the same as trump jr trophy hunting -- sorry but that's absurd." It's true that a poacher has made the choice to poach, but should we be thinking about what led to that decision? Is that important in a conversation like this?

Is this an argument about the value of an animal's life over that of a human?

Some people seem to think that it would have been worse for an animal to die at the hands of a poacher, than the other way around.

Maybe this is just a tragic story all-round.

It's wrong that animals are being poached for their horns, tusks and fur. It's also wrong that people are being driven to do such heinous things as poaching out of a desperate need for money in an impoverished environment.

We think we agree with Natalia Reagan.

A conversation like this is just too big for the internet. Tweets are too often lost in translation and there really is too much to be discussed in such a small space. What do you think about all this?

There's one thing that we know for sure.

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Something needs to be done about the poaching situation in Africa. It's not okay that animals are being killed for money. Just look at this little baby rhino! Too cute!