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South African officials step up rhino-poaching punishments

February 1, 2012

Three poachers were recently sentenced to 25 years in prison for their crimes, a punishment that is stronger than any issued previously. The Associated Press reports that the punishment was broken down into two major crimes - illegal hunting and possession of illegal firearms. The former resulted in 10 years and the latter added on another 15 to the sentence.

Illegal hunting of rhinos in South Africa poses a threat to the species' survival, and last year alone, at least 448 of the creatures were killed by poachers, according to the AP. Those who want to talk to their friends about the rhino poaching problems can make calls to South Africa with international phone cards.

Reuters reports that South Africa has the largest rhino population, but illegal hunting threatens to reduce their numbers drastically if nothing is done. In 2002, there were more than 20,000 recorded rhinos living in the region and only about 15 were being killed by poachers each year. Demand for rhino horns in Asia has driven up the rate of poaching.

"The sentencing of these poachers is an indication that as a country we are taking more stringent measures in the fight against rhino poaching," David Mabunda, the chief executive of the park service, told Reuters.


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