CAPE TOWN, There has been a slight drop in the number of rhinos poached in South Africa in the first half of this year, says Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa.
She disclosed this when briefing the media here Monday on the progress of implementation of the Integrated Strategic Management Approach of Rhinoceros adopted by the Cabinet in August 2014. Molewa was accompanied by Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and State Security Minister David Mahlobo.
Molewa disclosed that 529 rhino had been poached in the first six months of 2017 compared with 542 in the same period of 2016. With regards to the Kruger National Park, which has traditionally borne the brunt of poaching, a total of 243 rhino carcasses were found between January and the end of June 2017, compared with 354 in the same period of 2016. This represents a decrease of 34 per cent, she said.
However, the declining numbers do not mean government can proclaim victory, stressed Molewa. Nevertheless, a downward trend was being established, which was a cause for cautious optimism. Whilst there has been a decrease in the number of rhino killed for their horns in the Kruger National Park and Mpumalanga (province), the number of rhino poached unfortunately increased in some other provinces, she noted.
It was also a matter of concern that in 2017, 30 elephants were poached in the Kruger National Park and in this regard, the interventions being implemented to counter rhino poaching were also used to respond to the emerging threat.
Molewa said it was clear that more resources were required to address the challenge of rhino and elephant poaching.
Meanwhile, the government’s Rhino Protection Programme, supported by the Peace Parks Foundation, continues to support orphanages which provide care for young rhino calves whose mothers have been poached. We now have several rhino orphanages around the country taking care of orphans. The intention remains to ultimately resettle these orphans as part of family groups in the wild. SANParks (South Africa National Parks) alone has rescued four orphans in 2017 and presently holds 44 rhino orphans at various facilities, said Molewa.
Meanwhile, during the period, a total of 359 alleged poachers and traffickers have been arrested nationally. The number of arrests inside the Kruger National Park totalled 90 alleged poachers with 112 more arrested adjacent to the national park.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK