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In South Africa, Armed Guards for Rhinos

Some private game farmers in South Africa are hiring armed protection for their rhinos. New security companies are being started to fight an increase in rhinoceros poaching. Poachers are now well-armed and well-financed.

A single horn sells for than $65,000 per kilogram. That is more valuable than gold. Rhino horns are sold mostly in Vietnam and China. People there wrongly believe that the material in the horn can cure all kinds of problems.

Simon Rood started a security company in South Africa five years ago, when rhino poaching started to increase. His 35 rangers supervise an area of 150,000 hectares in Limpopo province.

Simon Rood was a soldier in the South African army, and gives military training to his rangers. He says they have never lost a rhino to poaching. This, he says, is because his rangers patrol 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and live and sleep in the countryside.

Callie Botha manages a wildlife business that had six rhinos. Recently he found one dead, with its horns cut off. He owned the rhino for 12 years. Replacing a rhino costs about $28,000. But Callie Botha says armed protection also costs a lot, and he worries about his own safety. So he may stop breeding rhinos. He says, "The risk is too high. "Other wildlife businesses are willing to pay to protect their rhinos.

Karen Trendler works at South Africa's only rhino orphanage. She thinks there should be a law to establish rules for training. If security companies are not well-trained, she says, there is a risk of corruption. She says a long-term solution will come through education and law enforcement.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Carolyn Presutti.