Rhino poaching plummets amid South Africa coronavirus lockdown
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The killing of rhinoceroses in South Africa is down steeply since the country imposed nationwide lockdown measures to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic.

South African rhino killings by poachers were down more than 50 percent in the first half of the year compared to the first half of 2019, according to The Associated Press. About 20,000 rhinos, believed to be more than three quarters of the global population, live in South Africa.

That has made it a frequent target for the illegal rhino horn trade. The government frequently sends anti-poaching officers through its national parks to protect the animals and other typical poaching targets such as elephants.

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"Although the killings of rhinos have reduced this year, this could be a temporary reprieve," Cathy Dean, chief executive of Save the Rhino, told the AP. "With the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus, and the decline of tourism, many people are desperate and some may turn to poaching. With a resumption of international flights, we may again see seizures of illegal rhino horn, which indicates a resurgent trade."

South Africa imposed a nationwide lockdown in late March, halting all domestic and international travel. The country is set to allow international tourists to return beginning Oct. 1 after slowly rolling back other lockdown measures.

"The lockdown presented an opportunity for us. There was no international or local tourism and the lockdown also prevented poachers from moving around and we were able to ramp up our protective measures," Albi Modise, a spokesman for the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, told the AP.