Rhino Horn: A battlefield in black and white

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June in the Kruger National Park saw nature and man at odds with each other, with both sides taking their own losses...An official SANParks press release on 2010-06-15 detailed an encounter between Kruger National Park field rangers and a suspected rhino poacher, in the Northern Vlakteplaas region of the park.During a routine patrol of the park on the morning of Sunday the 13th, the rangers uncovered what appeared to be a single set of human footprints, and set off immediately in the direction in which they led. Leading up to the following morning, Monday the 14th, the trackers lay waiting in an ambush which they sprang on the now red-handed criminal - the suspect had just returned from removing the precious horn from an animal when the rangers shot and apprehended him.The carcasses of two shot female rhinos were collected from the scene.A further two bodies in the Kruger National Park were uncovered during the week of the 21st, reported Independent Online news, totalling the number of endangered rhinos killed in South African reserves over the course of 2010 to 115 - just short of 2009's year total of 120 recorded deaths.Black and white rhinos are classified endangered and near threatened species, respectively. The removal of their horns is typically associated with medicinal demand, or use in decoration, such as jewelry, knife handles, and finishings. Despite an international ban on the trade of rhino horn, the surfacing of an underground rhino horn black market and skyrocketing fetching prices on horn (as with ivory), most moves to quell the tracking and dealing in this commodity have proved this to be largely ineffectual.

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