SA-Moz rhino deal still delayed

2013-05-28 17:53
Edna Molewa. (Sapa)

Edna Molewa. (Sapa)

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Cape Town - A year and a half after starting talks about curbing rhino poaching, South Africa and Mozambique have yet to reach an agreement.

"I wish it was actually yesterday," Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa told journalists after debate in the National Assembly on her department's R5.4bn budget on Tuesday.

She was replying to a question about when a memorandum of understanding would be signed between the two countries.

Close to 2 500 rhino have been poached in South Africa in the past seven years, most of them in the Kruger National Park. Many of those arrested for poaching have been Mozambicans.

Among the provisions of the memorandum for which Molewa is seeking signatures is the re-erection of a fence along the eastern border of South Africa's flagship reserve.

Sections of the fence were dropped over a decade ago, when the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park - a conservation area of about 35 000km², straddling South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique - was established.

"It is our joint, shared view, with SA National Parks, that there is a need to put up that fence," Molewa said.

Two or three meetings with Mozambique on the matter had been postponed. A change of minister on the Mozambique side had also contributed to the delay.

"We had tried to [have] a meeting twice, but on both occasions something urgent occurred from their side.... That's what we heard."

No time

Asked how long this had been going on, she responded: "About a year-and-a -half."

It was hoped to arrange a meeting between the leaders of the two countries - President Jacob Zuma and his Mozambique counterpart Armando Guebuza - as "soon as they find space or time".

The necessary legal preliminaries had been completed, but signatures were now needed.

Molewa said re-erecting the border fence did "not necessarily negate the spirit of the transfrontier park".

Earlier, she said South Africa was intensifying its international co-operation with so-called rhino horn "recipient" countries, such as Vietnam, Thailand, and China.

"To date we have signed memorandums of understanding with Vietnam and China, and we aim to sign similar agreements with Mozambique and other Asian countries."

Rhino poaching, particularly in the Kruger Park, continued to be "a major challenge".

Molewa said the situation was fuelled by a thriving black market in rhino horn.

More than 360 rhino have been killed by poachers in South Africa since the beginning of this year.

Read more on:    edna molewa  |  mozambique  |  mbombela  |  rhino poaching

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