Poachers in South Africa, home to some 20,700 rhinos, are on track to top last year’s record slaughter of the creatures as the country struggles to halt the growing scourge. In the first four months of the year, 393 animals were killed across the country, an 18 percent increase over the same time period in 2014. A majority of those rhinos, 290, were gunned down in Kruger National Park, according to South Africa’s national parks service.
The battle between park rangers and poachers has grown deadly over the past year. Rangers killed several armed poachers in the country’s flagship national park in both December and January as a spokesman for the national parks service warned criminals were “redirecting their attentions” to rhinos, The New York Times reported.
At least 62 poachers have been arrestedin Kruger this year, many coming from neighboring Mozambique.