R25 mln set aside to curb rhino poaching

2012-06-06 00:00

KZN has set aside R25 million to stop poachers from killing its remaining 4 000 rhino.

The strategic anti-rhino poaching plan will be a key focus of the KZN Agriculture and Environment Affairs Department in the coming year.

Delivering his budget speech yesterday, Agriculture MEC Meshack Radebe said funds would go to a provincial rhino security intervention plan that was in sync with the national government’s intervention.

“We cannot allow people to just destroy our natural heritage,” said Radebe. He added that he was happy that so far there had not been evidence of collusion between criminals and local officials, and he hoped that KZN could maintain that record.

The MEC would not elaborate on the province’s tactical plan, but warned that it was fully aware that it was dealing with “dangerous people”.

“Some of them are well trained in terms of shooting and we need to beef up our security and engage and defeat these criminals who want to kill our rhinos.”

Radebe said the strategy was to curb rhino poaching through effective intelligence rather than being reactive. He emphasised that staff needed to be well trained to combat the threat.

Dr Bandile Mkhize, head of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, said 23 rhino had been killed in KZN since January . Of these, 12 had been killed in private game reserves and 11 in Ezemvelo game reserves. He said project would include meetings with the owners of private reserves.

Mkhize said that the R2 million raised at a game auction two weeks ago would go to the anti-rhino poaching project.

KZN’s rhino population stood at 4 000, he said, and was the second largest after the Kruger National Park.

• nalini@witness.co.za

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