A total of 333 rhinos were illegally killed in South Africa in 2010, including ten critically endangered Black Rhinos, according to national park officials.
The yearly total is the highest ever experienced in South Africa and nearly triple 2009 when 122 rhinos were killed in the country. An additional six rhinos have been lost to poaching since the New Year.
Kruger National Park, the world famous safari destination, was hardest hit losing 146 rhinos to poaching in 2010, authorities said. The park is home to the largest populations of both White and Black Rhinos in the country. Nationwide, South Africa is home to approximately 21,000 rhinos, more than any other country in the world.
Rhino poaching across Africa has risen sharply in the past few years, threatening to reverse hard-won population increases achieved by conservation authorities during the 20th century.
The recent killing increase is largely due to heightened demand for rhino horn, which has long been prized as an ingredient in traditional Asian medicine. It has been claimed recently that rhino horn possesses cancer-curing properties, despite there being no medical evidence to support the assertion.