Rhino poaching rises by 50% in South Africa

More than 1,000 rhinos were illegally killed in South Africa last year. Credit: ITV News

More than 1,000 rhinos were illegally killed in South Africa last year, a 50 per cent increase on the previous year, according to official figures.

The South African Department of Environmental Affairs said 1,004 rhinos were poached in 2013 - compared to 668 killed for their horn in 2012.

South African officials also revealed that there was a rise in the number of rhino poachers arrested during 2013. Last year, 343 alleged poachers were arrested, up from 267 in 2012. There have been six arrests so far this year.

Conservation experts have warned that the rise in poaching, to meet demand for rhino horn in China and Vietnam in particular, brings South Africa's white rhino population closer to the "tipping point" where deaths will outnumber births and the population will go into serious decline.