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South Africa says 96 rhinos poached so far in 2013

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JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South African authorities say at least 96 rhinoceros have been killed so far this year, as rampant poaching for their horns to sell to buyers in Asia continues.

South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs released the tally Wednesday. The statistics show the majority of the killings continue in the expansive Kruger National Park in South Africa’s northeast.

From the 1990s to 2007, rhino killings in South Africa by poachers averaged about 15 a year. However, the number has soared as buyers in Asia now pay the U.S. street value of cocaine for rhino horn.

Rhino horn is made of keratin, a tough protein found in human fingernails. There’s a belief in Asia that taking ground-up horn cures diseases. However, no medical evidence supports that.

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