Rhinos safe, despite poaching
Cape Town - Despite a shocking increase in poaching of rhinos in SA, the head of The South African National Parks (SANParks) said that the population is in no danger of extinction - for now.
In a statement on Thursday, SANParks said rhino poaching continues to escalate at "an unprecedented rate" since the beginning of this year. The total lost so far this year stands at 124.
However, SANParks chief executive Dr David Mabunda says fears of extinction are unfounded, as the poaching deaths represented small percentages of the rhino populations.
"The SA National Parks have lost 55 rhinos, while the provinces have lost 38 rhinos collectively and the private sector has also collectively lost 31 rhinos," SANparks said on its website.
"The rhinos lost through poaching throughout the country constitute approximately 0.6% of the estimated white rhino population of 19 409 and approximately 0.3% of the 1 752 estimated black rhino population," SANParks added.
Other species in danger of extinction
Mabunda said that he is troubled by reports that the rhino populations are in imminent danger of extinction. However, some rhino species in parts of Africa and Indonesia are in grave danger of extinction.
There have been some successes in apprehending the poachers and SANParks announced that so far this year they have made 42 arrests in joint operations with the police force.
"On Tuesday, 29 June 2010, a 29-year-old Vietnamese national, Xuan Hoang, was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment by a Kempton Park Magistrate’s court for possession of seven rhino horns after he was apprehended trying to smuggle his cargo through OR Tambo International," SANParks said.
Mabunda urged the public to be vigilant and report suspicious activity, especially low-flying helicopters with concealed registration numbers as these were most often used by poachers.
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