Official figures revealed on Thursday indicate that nearly 1,200 rhinos were killed by poachers in South Africa in 2015.
The news came a day after a South African judge lifted a domestic ban on the trade in rhino horn.
According to data released by South Africa’s ministry of environment, about 1,175 rhinos were killed for their horns in South Africa last year, including 826 in the country’s biggest game reserve Kruger National Park.
The park serves as home to the largest population.
While addressing a news conference in Pretoria, South Africa’s minister of environment, Edna Molewa, said for the first time in a decade, the poaching situation in South Africa has actually stabilised.“A total of 317 poachers were arrested for rhino poaching related offences and of these, 202 were arrested in the Kruger National Park, 115 in the area adjacent to the park,” she added.
Rhino horn demand has climbed in Asian nations including China and Vietnam because of a belief that they can cure diseases such as cancer.
The price of the horns is as much as $95,000 per kilogram in Asia,which is more valuable than gold.
As the Asian market has become more demanding, the trade has soared leading to increased level of poaching.
To curb poaching, enforcement officers in South Africa are now keen to monitor airports for smuggling while border officials are being given the investigative skills to combat the crime.
A survey by SAN Parks, which runs Kruger, estimated 8,400 to 9,300 white rhinos lived in the park as of 2015.
South Africa is said to be home to around 20,000 rhinos, around 80% of the population worldwide.
Molewa said she will appeal a court decision allowing the trade of rhino horns within the country.