WATCH | Baby rhino births a reason to celebrate as black rhino makes it back from the brink

accreditation
0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
  • Thirteen rhino calves have been born as part of a programme to rescue black rhino.
  • There are 270 black rhino kept in special locations.
  • Poaching has declined to its lowest level in five years.


While it's too early to say that rhino are out of the extinction woods, there is reason to celebrate as efforts to rescue the species continue in South Africa.

On Tuesday – World Rhino Day – the World Wide Fund for Nature in South Africa (WWF) announced the birth of no less than 13 calves at various facilities across SA.

The Black Rhino Range Expansion Project was a collaborative effort to protect rhino and move them to safer habitats.

"This is why WWF entered into partnership with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife nearly two decades ago," said WWF project leader Dr Jacques Flamand.

READ | Big drop in rhino poaching as SA govt tackles syndicates

There were 13 partner sites housing 270 black rhino and the locations had to be kept under wraps given the risk of poaching.

Poachers arrested

According to the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, 594 rhino were lost in 2019, down from 769 in 2018, and well off the high of 1 215 poached in 2014, according the then environmental affairs department.

Reacting to the results in February this year, Minister Barbara Creecy said: "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."

In 2019, 178 poachers were arrested in the Kruger Park alone, while nationally, the number arrested for poaching and trafficking was 332.

Thirty-eight people were sentenced to more than 11 years behind bars in 2019 and a number of high profile cases were still pending.

As a result of a multitude of efforts, including regional co-operation, the population of black rhino had increased to 5 500 from 2 500, 25 years ago, said the WWF.

"We decided to increase the range of black rhino in order to increase its growth rate and numbers of the critically endangered species. It started slowly and it has taken a lot of hard work and commitment from a lot of partners. Now we are starting to see the results that we hoped for," said Flamand.

But the organisation struggled with a sharp vacancy rate which had an impact on its ability to beat back poachers, according to its annual report.

"The moratorium on the filling of vacant posts has resulted in a 30% vacancy rate which is impacting on the entity's operations. This is hardest felt in our protected areas as our decreasing law enforcement troops struggle to fight the scourge of rhino poaching on the ground," wrote chair, Dr William Mngoma.

Despite the challenges, data from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife showed that black rhino populations were increasing, though more so on private or communal land, rather than on state land.

Did you know you can comment on this article? Subscribe to News24 and add your voice to the conversation.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Are you going to keep wearing a mask following the announcement that it is no longer required under law?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
No ways, I'm done
41% - 3440 votes
Yes, I still want to be cautious
21% - 1779 votes
Only certain circumstances
37% - 3124 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
15.91
-0.7%
Rand - Pound
19.57
-1.0%
Rand - Euro
16.83
-1.0%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.02
-0.5%
Rand - Yen
0.12
-0.7%
Gold
1,838.78
+0.6%
Silver
21.50
+1.7%
Palladium
1,929.50
+2.6%
Platinum
914.00
+0.3%
Brent Crude
113.12
+2.7%
Top 40
61,635
+2.7%
All Share
67,999
+2.5%
Resource 10
66,308
+2.9%
Industrial 25
79,761
+4.1%
Financial 15
15,478
-0.9%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE