CAPE TOWN, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) -- South African law enforcement agencies have intensified the crackdown on rhino poaching, arresting 24 alleged rhino poachers in the past two weeks, the government said on Thursday.
The arrests brought the number of suspected rhino poachers arrested across the country since Jan. 1, 2013, to 191, the Department of Environmental Affairs said.
The latest arrests were made in the Kruger National Park and the North West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces.
In addition to the arrests, four suspected rhino poachers were shot dead in two separate operations last month.
Minister of Environmental Affairs and Water Edina Molewa commended law enforcement agencies for the good work they have done in the fight against rhino poaching, the department said.
But the department said the arrests happened amidst the increasing number of poaching incidents reported in South Africa.
The total number of rhinos poached since the beginning of the year has increased to 618, with the Kruger National Park continuing to bear the brunt of rhino poaching, with 381 rhino having been killed for their horns since January.
Among the total number of rhinos poached, 64 have been killed in Limpopo, 62 in KwaZulu-Natal, 62 in North West and 42 in Mpumalanga.
"South Africans are encouraged to continue supporting the work of the security forces, rangers and conservationists," the department said. "The commitment to conservation requires the support of everyone in order to stem the tide of rhino poaching."
The authorities have set up anonymous tip-off lines 0800 205 005, 08600 10111 or Crime-Line on 32211 to encourage the public to report incidents of poaching.
South Africa blames rhino poaching on the rising demand for rhino horns. Rhino horns are superstitiously believed to cure many diseases, notably cancer, although no scientific evidence to prove this.