The Department of Environmental Affairs has said that the number of rhinos being poached across South Africa is on the decline compared to the same period last year.
In the period January 1 2018 to August 1 2018, 508 rhinos were poached across the nine provinces in comparison to 691 in the same period in 2017, according to the department. The Kruger National Park has seen poaching numbers decline. “In the period under review, a total of 292 rhino were poached, compared to 332 in the same period last year,” said the department. And in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), 83 rhinos were poached in the 2018 period, compared to 163 last year.
“This is extremely noteworthy, and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, working in collaboration with the SAPS, are to be commended,” said the department. Elephant poaching is, however, on the increase.
This information was imparted on Friday, September 21, in an update on the implementation of the integrated strategic management of rhino, with the department saying that “in addition to the arrests affected by Operation Rhino 9, a total of 13 wildlife traffickers were arrested between January 1 and August 31 2018”.
“It is still of concern that our own personnel are being arrested for rhino poaching-related offences,” said the department in a statement.
Since SANParks’ implementation of integrity management across the organisation in support of ongoing anti-poaching efforts, a number of officials have been dismissed – with some facing criminal charges – following disciplinary processes.
The department has said that one of the challenges facing anti-poaching law enforcement is that suspected kingpins and syndicate members hide and even dispose of the proceeds of their alleged activities “as a result of lengthy trial delays”.