Record numbers of rhino killed in South Africa


A record number of rhino were poached in South Africa this year as rising demand in Asia for their horns led to increased killings of the threatened species.

At least 443 of the animals were killed in South Africa during 2011, up from 333 last year, according to the national parks service and conservationists.

The street value of rhinoceros horn has soared to about $65,000 (£42,000) a kilogram, making it more expensive than gold, platinum and, in many cases, cocaine. In parts of Asia, a belief has taken hold in recent years that ingesting rhino horn can cure or prevent cancer, but this has no basis in science.

South Africa was losing about 15 animals a year a decade ago, but this has risen dramatically.