Close to 62 per cent of rhinos poached in South Africa last year were killed in the Kruger National Park, according to newly released statistics on rhino poaching in the country.

Statistics released on Monday by the Department of Environmental Affairs, Forestry and Fisheries (DEA), however, shows an encouraging decline in rhino poaching.

According to DEA, a total of 394 rhinos were poached in 2020, compared to 594 in 2019, a significant decrease of 33 per cent.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has applauded the achievement by the state department in reducing rhino poaching at the country’s major national park.

However, the report noted that despite the decline in poaching, rhinos in the flagship Kruger National Park still remain most at risk, with 245 rhinos poached in the park during 2020.

“Combating wildlife crime is tough, dangerous and life threatening and taking a unified approach shows the battle against rhino poaching can be won,” said Neil Greenwood, IFAW Regional Director, Southern Africa.

“In addition to congratulating the Department and its stakeholders, much of the credit must go to rangers on the front lines and the prosecuting authorities,” Greenwood noted.

He added that the continued pressure on rhinos in Kruger was concerning and needed urgent measures to contain.

“As home to South Africa’s largest population of rhinos the animals will remain a target in the cross-hairs of a poacher’s rifle. We encourage focusing even more on giving management and rangers in Kruger what they need to stop the poachers,” he added.