Rhino poaching: Lack of police blamed

2010-07-15 22:46

Johannesburg - The increase in rhino poaching is partly due to the disbanding of specialist police units, AfriForum said on Thursday.

"The specialist unit was disbanded (in 2003) without an effective alternative being established in its place," said AfriForum's spokesperson on environmental affairs, James Kemp.

"We welcome the minister of environmental affairs' initiative to establish a task team to investigate rhino poaching, but in the light of the increase in incidents, (we) would like to know when such a unit will be fully functional," he said.

In a statement, SA National Parks said 124 rhino had been lost this year.

"(SanParks) have lost 55 rhinos, while the provinces have lost 38 rhinos collectively and the private sector has also collectively lost 31 rhinos," it said.

"Of the rhinos lost, five were black rhino and 119 white rhino."

Lack of resources

Kemp has received complaints about a lack of resources from employees of provincial nature reserves and the people combating poaching at a grassroots level in Limpopo.

"According to these sources, the average age of employees in Limpopo's reserves is 55 years. The employees are not equipped with the required anti-poaching skills either.

"The reserves need new blood moving into this profession. We need young people who are active, can walk long distances, and can take over the fight one day," he said.

He also commented on the general lack of funding, skills, and equipment available to employees.

"The provincial government and the minister should start discussing these issues in order to combat poaching jointly in a more efficient manner," he said.

The department of environmental affairs was not immediately available for comment.