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South African officials consider banning rhino hunts

August 29, 2011

Rhinoceros poaching is becoming an increasingly troubling issue in South Africa, and officials are trying to devise possible solutions to curb the illegal practice. Last year, poachers killed 333 rhinos, which is an obscenely large jump from the 13 that were hunted in 2007, according to the AFP. Already this year, 279 rhinos have been killed, and officials are making efforts to halt trophy hunting and permit abuse.

"Illegal hunting and abuse of (the) permit system may be the main threats that could impact the survival of rhinos in the wild in the near future," the environmental minister, Edna Molewa, told the news source. "We haven't said that we are going to dehorn - the dehorning possibility impact study has been initiated and will be concluded in the next three months."

The Associated Press reports that rhinos have become such precious and sought-after game because their horns are worth more than gold. The environmental agency is determining whether dehorning the creatures to spare their lives will be a viable option. Currently, the government allows a small number of legal hunts each year, but with poaching on the rise this may have to be discontinued completely.

People can use international phone cards to make calls to South Africa to talk to their friend and family about the rhinos and the implications of poaching.

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