JOHANNESBURG – An environmental official says South Africa is considering halting rhinoceros trophy hunting as syndicates abuse the system to illegally acquire rhino horn that is prized in Asian medicine.
The warning came at a news conference Monday where Environment Minister Edna Molewa announced that poachers have killed 279 rhinos this year. The onslaught has continued despite the deployment of scores of troops.
Molewa said 155 suspects have been arrested this year.
Poaching has reached unprecedented highs as the price of rhino horn has surpassed that of gold.
Vietnam has become a major destination for poached horn. Two Vietnamese were sentenced to long jail terms in South Africa this month after they were arrested with 20 rhino horns that had been illegally acquired from legal hunts.