JOHANNESBURG - Poachers have killed more than 100 rhinos in South Africa over the past four weeks, pushing the death toll so far this year towards 800, official figures showed Friday.
"The number of rhinos poached for their horns in South Africa since January 2013 has increased to 790," the environment ministry said in a statement. Killings have surged in recent years to feed black market demand in Asia for their horns. In 2007 there were only 13 reported incidents.
Conservationists have warned a surge in rhino poaching for their horns in South Africa was becoming critical, with the number of rhinos killed set to exceed births, leading to an overall population decline.
The country's renowned Kruger National Park, which borders Mozambique, is worst affected, having lost 476 rhinos since January.
Rhino horn, the same matter as human fingernails, is a status symbol in nations like China, Vietnam and Laos where it is believed to have healing or aphrodisiac properties.
South Africa is home to around 80 per cent of the world's rhino population, estimated at more than 25,000.