Cape Town - The relentless rhino poaching onslaught across Africa shows no signs of letting up and staggering statistics released earlier on Tuesday indicate South Africa is on track to lose more than one thousand rhino for the fifth straight year in a row.
The reminder of ‘worse to come’ was delivered in the National Assembly by the IFP’s Chief Whip, Narend Singh, who called for government to take stronger and more decisive action against the onslaught.
He warned that while the financial costs of fighting the poaching wars were considerable, the losses to future generations would be incalculable if the battle to save the iconic rhinoceros species was lost.
Singh revealed a total of 483 mortalities that had been reported nationally in the first five and a half months of 2017.
In KwaZulu-Natal, the upsurge in poaching rate had already surpassed 2016’s record figures by more than double.
According to Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, more than 30 rhinos have been slaughtered since mid-May’s full moon massacre at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (HiP), bringing the total for the year so far to 119.
Almost all the mortalities have been recorded in the province’s flagship reserve.
"With our country still losing three rhinos a day, we dare not cut budgets and think we are winning. Within a few short years, there will be no rhino left unless Government acts
across the board.
"Honourable Speaker, through Project Rhino KZN, a million youth are calling on us to stop the slaughter now. If we fail, their generation will never see a wild rhino," he said.
"Treasury must count the cost to our country of illegal rhino horn trafficking and tourism must count the future cost of lost revenue.
"Justice must create circuit courts in all districts where protected areas occur and police must investigate the nefarious syndicates who are operating freely. Safety and Security must refit our military with green berets to defend our natural heritage.
"Environmental Affairs must study the pros and cons of dealing with existing stockpiles of legal horn. Communities living around protected areas must receive incentives and training to become partners in this fight."
Meanwhile, rangers arrested two suspects 2km outside of HiP following a tip-off by community members on Tuesday.
After being questioned by Ezemvelo’s Anti Poaching Unit, the two men admitted to poaching a rhino and showed members where they had hidden the horn.
Rangers made another arrest on Monday, in the Makhamisa section of the park, after coming under fire from a group of three suspected poachers.
"One suspect was wounded while two others escaped. A .375 rifle, a silencer and 14 rounds of ammunition were recovered," said Ezemvelo spokesperson, Musa Mntambo.