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South African group reports slight drop in rhino poaching

In this photo taken on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015, rhinos walk in the Hluhluwe game reserve on the outskirts of Hluhluwe, South Africa. The Hluhluwe game park has the so called African Big Five game animals -  rhinoceros, lions, buffalos, elephants and  leopards, with thousands of tourist making the journey to Kwa Zulu Natal to visit the park yearly.   (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

In this photo taken on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015, rhinos walk in the Hluhluwe game reserve on the outskirts of Hluhluwe, South Africa. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

JOHANNESBURG — A conservation group says the number of rhinos poached in South Africa in 2015 was slightly lower than in the previous year, a statistic that, if confirmed, would be the first annual drop in numbers since rhino poaching surged around 2008.

Citing unidentified sources, Elise Daffue, founder of StopRhinoPoaching.com, says there were about 1,160 reported cases of rhino poaching last year, down from 1,215 in 2014. She says the drop reflects law enforcement efforts to stop poaching in South Africa, home to most of the world’s rhinos.

Another South African conservationist, Allison Thomson, said Saturday that the figure of 1,160 killed rhinos seems low and does not include rhino carcasses yet to be found.

The South African government says it will release 2015 statistics on rhino poaching early this year.