150 extra rangers for Kruger

2012-01-15 12:14

Pretoria - An additional 150 rangers will be deployed to the Kruger National Park this year in a bid to combat rhino poaching, Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said on Sunday.

Molewa, addressing a National Press Club briefing in Pretoria, said that would add to the existing 500 rangers currently employed in the park.

Molewa's announcement follows the killing of 11 rhino in the country this year so far.

Two poachers have been killed and another two have been arrested in connection with the rhinos poaching in the Kruger National Park this year.

In 2011, 448 rhino were killed in South Africa.

"This ongoing poaching of our rhino population is a great source of concern to the government."

About 232 people had been arrested for rhino poaching, Molewa said.

Border fence

Molewa said her department would meet the department of public works about re-erecting a 150km stretch of fence along the border with Mozambique.

SA National Parks chief executive David Mabunda, who was also at the briefing, said the fence, if approved, would cost an estimated R250m to build.

"We still have a fence or what used to be a fence. That part of the fence is in a bad state of repair," said Mabunda.

The proposed fence would be electrified, but would not be so strong as to electrocute people who crossed the border. Mabunda said it would operate more as an early warning system.

He said most of those caught poaching were Mozambican nationals with some South Africans involved. Very few Zimbabweans were involved in poaching in the Kruger National Park.

He said Mozambicans living across the border of the park were extremely poor and could therefore be enticed by organised crime.

"We need an appropriate organised response."

Molewa said further meetings were planned with Mozambican officials.

Economic crime

Fundisile Mketeni, the water and environmental affairs deputy director general for biodiversity and conservation, said the fact that a recent auction to hunt a rhino in KwaZulu-Natal had raised R950 000 gave an indication of the value attached to rhinos and the associated poaching.

"We are dealing with an economic crime," he told the briefing.

Molewa said she had decided not to effect a "blanket moratorium" on hunting.

Following a recent meeting with provincial environmental MECs, a decision had been made to implement measures, including moratoriums, in "targeted areas, environments and/or provinces where such will be necessary".

South Africa has about 22 000 rhino, which according to Mabunda is about 80% of the world's rhino population.

Currently the country's rhino population, 22% of which is in private hands, was growing. However, he warned that if poaching levels continued to climb, from 2015 South Africa could see a fall in its rhino population.

In the 1960s and 1970s Africa's rhino population was being exterminated at the rate of and estimated 8 000 animals per year.

The horn of rhino is valued for dagger handles in Yemen while in China and Vietnam it is prized in traditional medicine to treat fevers.

Molewa said she hoped that draft memorandums of understanding on wildlife trafficking would be signed with both Vietnam and China.

She said it was envisaged that both countries would embark on campaigns to educate their populations.

  • ivan.coetzee2 - 2012-01-15 12:33

    This is great news, we also have an army that is sitting around waiting for Swaziland to invade us, perhaps these troops could be put to better use by being deployed to the Kruger vwith "shoot to kill" instructions??

      Lucky Manaswe - 2012-01-15 13:48

      Hahahahaha u just made my afternoon. ". . . we also have an army that is sitting around waiting for Swaziland to invade us. . ." But on a serious note, the deployment of troops will really help.

      Squeegee - 2012-01-15 13:59

      Can't deploy the troops, they have rights! What about the danger of being shot at? What about the danger of malaria? What about the danger of being away from their loved ones? These poor people did not join the army to be put in danger. (TIC)

      Squeegee - 2012-01-15 14:05

      Woopeedoo. That means each new guy can cover about 133 sqkm - on a bicycle. Not going to make much difference, we need far more.

      Stephanie - 2012-01-16 09:15

      @Squeegee seriously? Is that comment meant to be taken seriously? Those people joined the army so that if our country needed to be defended they would be the people to do it and that inherently involves danger. Right now our country is in a crisis where rhinos are concerned and therefore they should be put to use- they have the skills (supposedly) so why should they sit around and train for nothing?

  • cheryl.pincus - 2012-01-15 13:02

    What happened to deploying the army in Kruger?

  • Alva - 2012-01-15 13:05

    Thank you minister Edna Molewa. Your actions are indeed encouraging. Hope the rangers have been screened and are not moles put in by syndicates.

  • Trevor - 2012-01-15 13:14

    Do yourself a favour and just google WHAT the Chinese actually consume...if it moves they eat it...Rhino's, Whales, name it, they want it...and they consume on a HUGE fact, they tend to wipe out species as they go...just go look, it's scary...

      Squeegee - 2012-01-15 14:00

      Sounds like alien invaders... Mmm....

      ivan.coetzee2 - 2012-01-15 14:17

      Hopefully they start eating each other soon, too bloody many of them around anyway.

      Monique - 2012-01-16 08:03

      fing with their heads!

  • Lloyd - 2012-01-15 13:37


  • Garth - 2012-01-15 14:09

    Window dressing. Pure bloody window dressing. Legalise the trade in rhino horn. Make it legitimate for the owner of the rhino to profit from the partnership. Make it worthwhile for the owner of the rhino to nurture and protect his/her stock without having to kill them to make a profit. So what if little yellow men need powdered rhino horn to ensure `longevity', give it to them, but legally. Initially, flood the market with all the horn that has been stockpiled in the southern African states - this will negate the need for poaching as no one will want to pay the inflated black market prices. Then, stabilise the trade, create a rhino horn standard and trade internationally. There are over 1 billion Chinese and 500 million more from south-east Asia as an exploitable market. The only people benefiting, now are the corrupt bastards enabling the poachers and the corrupt ministers and officials making this illegal trade possible. Take that away from them by legalising the trade in rhino horn and also in elephant products.

  • Bjorn - 2012-01-15 14:15

    Its a joke. Judging by the class of workers employed anywhere in South Africa nowadays, one can say with 100% certainty that the hire of these 150 new game rangers can be seen as a threat of an additional 150 poachers on the loose. They just have easier access and resources in order to poach the lot.

  • acsteyn - 2012-01-15 14:53

    This Rhino issue is an epidemic that is being allowed to continue to fester by administering inneffective anti-biotics. As a nation we need to stand together and agree on a a policy to curtail the sale, culling, trophy hunting for environmental income regarding a slecific list of wild animals. This period needs to be reviewed every two years until the situation is normalised. People found involved in these illegal activities must be sentenced for a period of no less than 10 years with no option of parole and no option of a fine. This indecision is really getting on my wick. It is immotive and embarrassing that country like South Africa seems to be powerless to deal with this situation. And "wait for the respective countries to educate their citizens". That's a laugh.

  • Graham.Cooper2 - 2012-01-15 15:34

    Now there are more to share in the profits.

  • Deeteem - 2012-01-15 15:59

    I do not want to burst your bubble Edna but we had a fence and the ANC had it removed !! So who do we have to thank now ?

  • Nicole Seeley - 2012-01-15 16:33

    Amen, let's get it done and do all we can

  • comurray - 2012-01-15 17:37

    Big deal, 650 rangers, how many rangers per square kilometer of Kruger park? Of those arrested how many were park rangers or family members?

  • henterkriel - 2012-01-15 18:38

    Get the army in and shoot them!

  • Andre - 2012-01-15 19:59

    We told you the border park issue with Mozambique will not work, but .... There are suspicion the the SAPS is part of the problem. Start with them to resolve this illegal activity. Africa is and will always be the laughing stock of the civilized countries. Here is another example of the low-order beings occupying this land.

  • Bernard - 2012-01-17 14:32

    Should never have taken the fence down now should you!! How long before the deployment of the additional rangers? I agree, use the SANDF, they just sit around twiddling their thumbs most of the time. They should use this as an intesive search & destroy training program, find & shoot on site anybody poaching within the parks.

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