Poachers kill black rhino in Matobo in blow to conservation efforts

BULAWAYO – Poachers have killed a black rhino in Matobo district in Matabeleland South, police said.

A carcass of a black rhino with its horns missing was found in the Makhothama Resettlement area which borders the Matopo National Park on February 7.

“The carcass was scanned with a metal detector leading to the recovery of two wildlife sensors and a bullet in the animal’s forehead,” national police spokesman assistant commissioner Paul Nyathi said.

The rhino horn is one of the most expensive commodities in the world by weight, fetching tens of thousands of dollars per kilogramme.

Demand is mainly from Asia where rhino horns are believed to have potent medicinal properties and are also a symbol of wealth.

Zimbabwe, home to the world’s fourth-largest black rhino population, now has about 1,000 rhinos after poaching decimated its numbers three decades ago, according to the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.

Along with South Africa, Namibia and Kenya, Zimbabwe remains an important frontier for conserving the critically endangered species.

Between 2007 and 2009, nearly a quarter of the country’s rhinos were lost to poaching. Strengthened conservation interventions have seen a slow but steady growth in the rhino population.

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