Rangers killed three poachers in the past week in a flurry of shootouts in Kruger National Park, the South African National Parks service said.
Three more poachers were wounded and arrested in another firefight. Six others escaped in the various incidents.
“There is definitely an increase compared to previous months in the number of poachers coming into the Kruger Park,” Paul Daphne, a parks spokesman, said. “It’s not unusual for this time of year.”
Many poachers cross into Kruger from neighbouring Mozambique.
Demand for rhino horn is surging in parts of Asia where it is seen as a status symbol and a cure for illness despite a lack of evidence that it can heal. The horn is made of keratin, a protein also found in human fingernails.
More than 1,000 rhinos have been killed this year in South Africa.