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South African rhinos gone by 2015, experts warn

If poaching of rhinoceroses in South African wildlife parks continues at its current rate, the already-endangered species will be extinct in the area by 2015, AFP reports.

The nation, which is home to about 90 percent of the world's rhino population, saw a 34 percent increase in poaching between 2010 and 2011, from 333 animals killed to 448, South Africa's Business Day reports. Still, the growth rate of the animal's population is positive overall. The Department of Environmental Affairs said recently that it was "encouraged" by the number of arrests and convictions made in the black-market trade for the rhino horn.

Adult rhinos are targeted for their horns, which are still in demand thanks in part to Asia's growing economy. Many people there value the horns for their role in traditional Chinese medicine.

"There is easier accessibility, poachers have better technology, so using cell phones and GPS they can move the horn that much quicker through the process," Karen Trendler told AFP. Trendler has been working to save animals in South Africa for more than 20 years, managing a number of wildlife sanctuaries and treatment centers for rhinos.

"On top of that there's the sinister part of it where it's actually being stockpiled against extinction ... they just take up as much as they can get and it's held in stockpile for the time when the numbers drop and the value of the horn goes up."
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