Rhino poaching highest in SA

2010-12-10 14:33

Port Elizabeth - Poaching of rhinos in SA is the highest because the country has the highest populations of the endangered animals, a World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) expert has said.

"It's an easier payoff for poachers because of the large population that is difficult to protect," WWF Africa Rhino Programme manager Joseph Okori told News24.

He said that compared to other African countries, SA faced numerous challenges with regard to rhino poaching and urged the government to implement environmental policies.

"Poaching happens throughout Africa, with the exception of Botswana, Namibia and Tanzania. Those countries have small rhino populations in intensive protection zones, with more people on the ground."

Okori said that SA has not tapped into the donor support that assisted countries in Africa with rhino protection, and that the country lagged behind, in terms of implementing its environmental protection policies.


"In other African countries, people understand the rhino's role as a tourist attraction and because their economies are smaller they rely to a greater extent on the income generated by this tourism. In South Africa, however, we have a wider economy and not as dependent on tourism income.

"Also, we have stronger labour laws in this country, where you can't have a ranger working for 24 hours, but the poachers work for 24 hours with sophisticated equipment; this creates an imbalance," Okori said.

The black rhino is particularly vulnerable in SA and the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency (ECPTA) signed an agreement with the WWF to re-home the critically endangered species in an effort to boost population numbers.

It is also hoped that an increase in rhino populations will boost tourism in the Eastern Cape.

"It will echo for generations in the future and it illustrates how we can take natural resources and add value," said Sybert Liebenberg, CEO of the ECPTA, speaking at the signing event.

"This is one of the poorest provinces and we're planning innovative events around our parks. But the real heroes are the guys in green who sit in the sun and track poachers," he added.

Rangers in the Great Fish River nature reserve are well-armed, but don't have enough manpower to police the entire park effectively.


Okori said that lessons from other African countries were instructive in using the army to assist game rangers to fight poaching, but that it should be done with great care.

"Wildlife protection is delegated to the army. They're not always equipped to do that, but their presence helps deter those who want to poach. We need to ensure that the SANDF is well-trained and educated before they assist.

"They can become more of a problem if they are not effective. The SANDF is tasked with ensuring that our borders are not being violated, and assist regular rangers. The army takes an active role in Kenya, where they have a 'shoot to kill' policy. It's a clear deterrent," he said.

Okori said that the government should engage with countries like Vietnam in order to arrest the growth in demand for rhinos, which would destroy the profit motive of poaching.

"We are yet to see what the minister said being put into action, and while 2010 has been a year of understanding the problem, 2011, must be a pro-active year of action - we want to see delivery."

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  • KaB - 2010-12-10 15:00

    The government and anyone in the tourism industry (companies, organisations etc) should be helping on this effects everyone! I for one hope that something is seriously done about this...I cannot handle what is happening and feel so useless in the situation.

  • roboman1 - 2010-12-10 15:11

    The South African defence force has some of the best trackers around, they should be used along with their re-actionary force in counter operations against poachers. It will keep them "operationally" in sync. (well they used to have some great trackers,anyway)

      Peter - 2010-12-11 07:00

      The SANDF could incorporate field service in the wild game parks of South Africa in its training ground. It will provide the men in uniform something legitimate to do and save the tourism industry.

      regular.action - 2011-01-04 18:59

      Sexy pic! Is that really you and why are you showing off?

  • Mj - 2010-12-10 23:07

    rhino poaching in south africa has vested interests from game rangers themselves to government departments causing the rhino to be traded as a commodity like opium was in the past

      BobOort - 2010-12-11 12:17

      You've said it right on. Good ideas are there from people wanting to end this insanity, but they keep forgetting that the crime lies in vested interests - flawed as they are, because when the rhino's gone, they'll have nothing left... except turning their corrupt practices elsewhere.

  • cecilh11 - 2011-01-03 11:24

    Interesting that so little is done by the various gov. agencies...wonder why? Don't suppose that corruption and vested interests have anything to do with it? I just cannot believe that it seems to be impossible to track down the sydicates involved, there just appears to ba a total real will to do so. Incorporating the SADF is a great idea, provided they also don't simply join in the slaughter.

  • lize.lubbe - 2011-01-05 07:04

    What we need to do is constantly remind the world that Orientals need rhino horn to get it up, but are too stupid to use Viagra. Perhaps "losing face" will stop the demand.

  • Mawila - 2011-03-25 18:44


  • To The Point - 2011-05-13 23:57

    All the poaching happened while Marthinus van Schalkwyk was minister of Agriculture forestry and fisheries and now “’Minister of Tourism”. His sidekick Tina Joemoet Peterson who replaced him is as useless in this portfolio. Van Schalkwyk deceived his party members and used their votes to cross the floor with his family to join the ANC camp. He has achieved nothing as a minister. The ANC only allowed him to cross the floor, as they knew he was useless and would fit in perfectly. He should take full responsibility for the slaughter of all the Rhino. Van Scalkwyk is the one who still promotes hunting in South Africa – shame on you. This has to stop, please contact people outside South Africa and ask them to start campaigns in their countries, as this useless government will not make an effort to stop the killing of Rhino or prevent any poaching of game. Help make the world aware of what is happening to our animals while the ANC is in power.

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