The eastern South African province of KwaZulut-Natal (KZN) has seen an increase in rhino poaching this year, with 134 rhinos having been killed so far this year, compared with 104 during the same period in 2015.

The provincial government has now formulated an Anti-Rhino Poaching Task Team which will hopefully help stem the tide.

Rhino are a significant part of South Africa’s natural heritage but these large, primitive-looking animals are under threat and KwaZulu-Natal has come into sharp focus in the war against rhino poaching.

The provincial rhino security head, Cedric Coetzee, says: “There are influxes or displacement of poaching from (the provinces of Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Limpopo) and so forth. So the syndicates are getting to use the whole country rather than staying in a single area.”

There have been successes and challenges in protecting this iconic species. Nationally, there’s a downward trend in the number of rhino poached. In this province, there’s concern, especially during this time of year.

Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) wildlife initiatives senior manager Chris Galliers says: “All the way through the year we track the times when there have been peaks and troughs heading into this time have often ended up in a peak.

“The reasons we aren’t a hundred percent sure one can speculate but hopefully with the rains that we’ve had it might increase the thickness of the bush and make it a little harder for poachers but we can’t be certain.”

Among its duties, the KwaZulu-Natal Anti-Rhino Poaching Task Team should assess criminal justice processes regarding poaching and also evaluate if the current human and logistical resources are sufficient to combat this ongoing scourge. Rhino poaching was declared a National Priority Crime in 2014.

Between Jan 1, and the end of August this year, more than 400 alleged poachers have been arrested in South Africa.


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