De­crease in Kruger Park rhino poach­ing

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS - SIYABONGA MKHWANAZI

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

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