Increase in KZN rhino poaching

2016-11-10 09:39
KZN reserves braced for increase in poaching as ban on rhino horn sales continues to fail dismally.

KZN reserves braced for increase in poaching as ban on rhino horn sales continues to fail dismally. (File)

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The number of rhino poached in KwaZulu-Natal has risen by 33% since last year, and the year is not over yet.

Last year, 99 rhinos were poached across the province. However, the number of rhino poached between January and now has reached a staggering 132 with the threat of even more being killed in the next eight weeks.

In an announcement in September, KZN Premier Willies Mchunu said the province would be establishing an Anti-Rhino Poaching Task Team.

The increase in rhinos poached in the province between 2010 an the present has been alarming, with the DA’s KZN economic development, tourism, conservation and environmental affairs spokesperson, Ann McDonnell, saying that rhino poaching had surged to the highest level in more than a century with a 400% increase on five years ago.

“KZN’s rhino population is living on borrowed time,” she said.

Mchunu’s spokesperson Ndabezinhle Sibiya said the unit would include a representative from KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife, from the police, the Premier’s office, an international policing expert and a legal expert from the Ian Player Foundation.

“The task team’s terms of reference include conducting an assessment of the criminal justice processes in relation to the poaching incidents at all levels,” he said.

Sibiya added that it would also evaluate if the current provincial human and logistical resources were enough to “turn the tide against rhino poaching”.

He said the highest number of rhinos poached came from the Hluhluwe and Imfolozi Game Reserves.

Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) wildlife initiatives senior manager Chris Galliers said the systems put in place by the state to decrease the number of rhinos poached were being approved but “not fast enough”. “Capacity in the system remains in short supply as well as effective co-ordination, although we have seen improvements here,” said Galliers.

He said the growing realisation that the poaching threat is a transnational crime linked to other serious crimes, with additional government departments starting to deploy their resources, was positive. Galliers said the increase in poaching in KZN has largely been attributed to the deflection of poachers from the Kruger Park to KZN due to some of the measures that SANParks has employed.

He added that there had been an “increased realisation” that more needs to be done to work with communities outside reserves.

Rhino owners and conservationists across SA meanwile explain why government’s decision to ban legal trading of rhino horn is wrong on rhinoAlive.co.za, and say the rhino killing would stop if rhino horns could be bought legally.

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