Rhino poaching — this is a war

2010-07-30 00:00

RHINO poaching statistics continue to rise. SA National Parks (SanParks) said this week the latest statistics show that 152 rhinos have been killed by poachers in the country since January.

SanParks CEO Dr David Mabunda said that to date 47 suspects comprising foot-soldiers and high-level dealers have been arrested in the country.

He urged members of the public to notify the authorities of any suspicious activities that could lead to arrests of poachers.

“Conservation bodies and private owners of rhino reserves alone will not stop this war. We are all responsible for the preservation of our natural heritage and everyone’s help is needed, so please stand up and be counted in putting an end to this scourge,” he said.

While it is evident that the breeding populations, especially of white rhinos, are stable, the alarming escalation of poaching has authorities on high alert.

“Perhaps it is no longer appropriate to refer to this spate of illegal killing of rhinos as poaching given the levels of sophistication, violence, precision and the money behind it,” said Mabunda.

“We are dealing with unprecedented high levels of organised crime, which the police and all security agencies are helping to defeat.

“We have worked hard as a country to bring this species back from the brink of extinction and we will continue to defend it even if we become the last man standing,” he added.

The figure of 152 rhino lost to poaching, encompasses the latest number of rhino poached in provincial and private game reserves throughout South Africa.

SanParks said the Kruger National Park alone has lost one black rhino and 65 white rhinos to poachers since the beginning of the year.

Provincial parks suffered a loss of three black rhinos and 42 white rhinos, while private game owners lost one black rhino and 40 white rhinos.

SanParks said the total includes rhino calves found dead after their mothers had been poached.

Their deaths contribute to the decline of the species. The chances of the calf’s survival are reduced to nearly zero if its mother is poached and if it is not found by the authorities in time.

Calves left on their own die of starvation or fall prey to predators.

The estimated population of white rhinos for the country as a whole in 2009 was 19 409, while the black rhino population stood at 1 678.

• Closer to home, police are still trying to trace the poachers who shot dead a white rhino bull with an AK-47 rifle and crudely removed its horn at the Inhlanzi private game reserve outside Pietermaritzburg on the night of July 23/24.


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