Decrease in Kruger Park rhino poaching
THE government is grappling hard with the crime of rhino poaching after a marginal decrease was recorded in the killing of the endangered animals this year.
But the battle over the killing of animals for their horns is far from won as the poachers were now gunning for elephants after an increase in the killing of the big beasts was noted.
Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa announced the figures in Parliament yesterday, where she was flanked by her security cluster cabinet colleagues David Mahlobo and Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
Nqakula, who is the Minister of Defence, and State Security Minister Mahlobo, also promised more stringent security measures in the Kruger National Park and other provinces to clamp down on rhino poaching.
Molewa said it seemed their efforts were paying off with a slight decrease in the number of rhinos poached this year.
From January to June this year, a total of 529 rhinos were poached.
This is lower than 542 rhinos poached during the same period last year.
The most significant impact had been in the Kruger National Park, which recorded a decrease of 34%.
“While there has been a decrease in the number of rhino killed for their horns in the Kruger National Park and Mpumalanga, the number of rhino poached unfortunately increased in some other provinces,” said Molewa.
She said she was also concerned that since the beginning of the year, 30 elephants were poached.
However, this was lower compared to the 46 elephants poached during the same period last year.
Molewa said they were taking the new emerging threat against elephants very seriously.
At least 359 people had been arrested for rhino poaching since the beginning of the year, Molewa said, adding 15 cases were finalised in court, with 22 perpetrators given a combined 95-year imprisonment term.
The Department of Environmental Affairs was working with the Hawks, the Department of State Security, the Department of Defence and other law enforcement agencies to bring down the numbers.
South Africa was also working with various countries to clamp down on this crime and other environmental crimes, said Molewa.
Mapisa-Nqakula said they would tighten the border posts to prevent a surge of rhino poachers from other countries.
President Jacob Zuma has established an inter-ministerial committee to deal with border security.
Mapisa-Nqakula said a team of ministers from South Africa would meet with their counterparts from Mozambique to tackle borderline security, noting South Africa had a long borderline and had to find ways of dealing with security.
The issue of border security has been one of the outstanding ones in Parliament, with MPs calling for tight security at the country’s borders.
Mapisa-Nqakula said the recently passed Border Management Authority Bill would be able to strengthen co-ordination between various government departments to control and manage the country’s borders.
The bill creates a single agency that would manage the country’s borders.
FLANKED: Edna Molewa