Big drop in rhino poaching as SA govt tackles syndicates

2020-02-04 11:44
(File, iStock)

(File, iStock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Rhino poaching in South Africa is on the decline as the government makes a concerted effort to battle the scourge that threatens a critically endangered species.

The decline in poaching has become an established trend as law enforcement agencies cooperated to take down syndicates operating in SA and neighbouring countries.

"A decline in poaching for five consecutive years is a reflection of the diligent work of the men and women who put their lives on the line daily to combat rhino poaching, often coming into direct contact with ruthless poachers," said Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy.

READ | Rhino poaching rises in Botswana despite government crackdown

In 2018, 769 rhino were killed for their horns, but that was reduced to 564 in 2019 – a reduction of 26%.In particular, most of the provinces saw reductions in rhino poaching. Only Limpopo and Gauteng registered increases.

Cost of rhino horns

At least 327 rhino were lost in the Kruger National Park alone as a result of 2 014 recorded "incursions and poacher activities".

According to the department, rhino poaching peaked in 2014 when 1 215 rhino were killed for their horns.

Only 13 rhino were poached in 2007, the lowest number recorded since 2006.

Most of the rhino horns are illicitly shipped to east Asian markets where it commands a price higher than gold per kilogram.

On the black market in SA, rhino horn costs about $6 000 per kilogram, according to National Geographic, and up to 10 times that in Asian black markets.

This means that one of the main drivers of rhino poaching is organised crime networks.

"Because wildlife trafficking constitutes a highly sophisticated form of serious transnational organised crime that threatens national security, the aim is to establish an integrated strategic framework for an intelligence-led, well-resourced, multidisciplinary and consolidated law enforcement approach to focus and direct law enforcement’s ability supported by the whole of government and society," said Creecy.

The department highlighted the successes law enforcement entities - including the Stock Theft and Endangered Species Unit of SAPS, the Hawks, SANParks, provincial park authorities and Environmental Management Inspectors (Green Scorpions) and Customs as well as the National Prosecuting Authority – in combating rhino poaching and working to secure convictions.

In 2019, 178 poachers were arrested for rhino poaching in the Kruger Park. And nationally, 332 were arrested for both poaching and rhino horn trafficking.

Law enforcement officials confiscated 85 guns in the year and secured a number of high-profile convictions.

Syndicates busted

In April, the Hawks arrested two men near Hartbeespoort for being in possession of 181 rhino horns. They remain in jail, pending the finalisation of their trial.

In November, three members of a syndicate were also arrested in Klerksdorp and Hartbeesfontein. They were found in possession of 100 rhino horns, as well as tiger carcasses, several weapons and ammunition.

In terms of convictions, 145 people were sentenced to prison terms ranging from two to more than 15 years.

South African law enforcement agencies have also received cooperation from China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Japan to assist in combating wildlife trafficking.

"The success of the operations demonstrates government’s ability to work together in fighting wildlife trafficking in South Africa," said Creecy.

Rhino poaching by province:

Provinces and national parks

2018

2019

SANParks

422

328

Gauteng

2

5

Limpopo

40

45

Mpumalanga

51

34

North West

65

32

Eastern Cape

19

2

Free State

16

11

Northern Cape

12

4

Kwa-Zulu Natal

142

133

Western Cape

0

0

Total

769

594

Rhino poaching stats.

Rhino poaching statistics from 2006 to 2018. (DEFF)


Convictions in 2019:

Imprisonment sentence in respect of rhino poaching and trafficking cases

Number of accused sentenced in 2019

2 to 5 years

75

6 to 10 years

32

11 to 15 years

32

15 years upward

6

 

Read more on:    sanparks  |  barbara creecy  |  crime  |  conservation  |  animals  |  poaching
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.