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The so-called "intensive protection zone" in the southern part of Kruger National Park took on new urgency when South Africa, home to 80% of the world's rhino, announced on Thursday that 1 020 rhino have been poached so far in 2014, exceeding last year's record of 1 004.
About two-thirds of the rhino poached this year died in Kruger. Poachers often dodge an overstretched force of 400 rangers as well as some military units that monitor the 350km between Kruger and Mozambique, and they shoot rhino just before sunset and scoot back to Mozambique under cover of night, according to rangers.
The protection zone encompasses about 5 000km², or at least one-quarter of the park, and is already home to many of Kruger's roughly 10 000 rhino — half the national population. Rhino were reintroduced in southern Kruger in the 1960s after poachers had wiped them out.
The Kruger National Park is the largest game reserve in South Africa and one of the world's biggest wildlife sanctuaries. Approximately the same size as Israel or Wales, it covers 20,720 square kilometers.