JOHANNESBURG – South African authorities have put in place more stringent measures as they bid to curtail the rampant poaching of wildlife, especially the endangered rhino.
Hard on the heels of the recent killing of a mother rhino and her calf in
the Western Boundary of the giant park on January 19, the new measures are expected to bear fruit. Due to its size, of about 2 million hectares, it is difficult for the rangers to patrol each and every part of it.
A retired South African National Defence Forces (SANDF) general was hired to come put together a training curriculum that will hopefully produce some of the best anti-poaching units in the world.
“We have very dedicated and experienced rangers on the ground. They can defend themselves and the species,” said South African National
Parks (SANParks) Communications and Marketing General Manager, Mr Isaac Phaahla, adding the wildlife sanctuary also received a
helicopter donation to boost its air power.
The part authorities also introduced one of the most effective technologies – the K9 unit, which has accounted for about 90% of the arrested suspects.
“We also use radar and the early detection warning systems to preserve rhinos and other species at the Kruger National Park,” said Phaahla.
South Africa has established a relationship with other countries, especially Mozambique, since 2012 because of the incursions.
The relationship, which has seen rhino poaching now also recognised as a crime in Mozambique, was spearheaded by then SA Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Mrs Edna Molewa and Mozambican Dr Carlos Lopez Pereira, the Director of Protection and Law Enforcement Services within the National Administration of Conservation Areas (ANAC). The joint actionhas seen sentences from Mozambique of between 15 and 7 years of
people convicted of rhino poaching.
In January 2020 alone, 13 arrests were made, 17 incursions and 6 weapons of high calibre and ammunition were confiscated. Stipends have also been put in place to enable environmental monitors to continue working on the ground.
Over the years, SANParks raised concerns on the hitherto light sentences and bail conditions given to the offenders, resulting in the Department of Justice reviewing them upwards.
A report released by the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries on the on February 3 states: “Since the last report on the rhino poaching situation and efforts made to address the crime, rhino horn samples have been released for analysis from Vietnam to determine whether if the horns confiscated are linked to crimes in South Africa. The Hawks have also received very good cooperation from China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, and Japan in their efforts to combine wildlife trafficking.”