Rhino poachers nailed by KNP rangers, police

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KNP commended its rangers and other stakeholders for making strides in the war against rhino poaching.

Masoka Dube

THE Kruger National Park (KNP) has commended its rangers and other law enforcement agencies for doing a great job in fighting rhino poaching.

This follows on the successes achieved in the Park and Mpumalanga, boosting a 99% conviction rate as compared to the rest of the country.

According to statistics released by the Department of Environmental Affairs, 421 rhinoceros were poached in the KNP last year, while more than 427 were killed in 2017.

KNP spokesperson, Ike Phahla, told NEWSHORN that the decrease of rhino poaching cases attributed to the hard work of the rangers and all the stakeholders involved in a fight against rhino poaching.

“The anti-poaching strategies that have been implemented in the KNP are bearing fruit. Co-operation with SAPS has led to criminal syndicate leaders being arrested,” said Phahla.

Be that as it may, Phahla appealed to communities to stop celebrating criminals’ success and support the efforts of SANParks and SAPS to stop the pillaging of the country’s high-value assets as it would lead to a decrease in tourism and ultimately to job losses.

Meanwhile, Department of Environmental Affairs Minister, Nomvula Mokonyane, said the number of rhinos poached in Mpumalanga increased from 49 in 2017 to 51 in 2018.

When asked about the recently released national figures on rhino poaching, which pointed to a decline in poaching cases last year, but an increase in Mpumalanga, Phahla defended the province. He said the statics showed that the law enforcement agencies in the province were doing a wonderful job by apprehending poachers.

“There are more cases because of the excellent working relationship between the SAPS and the SANParks Environmental Crime Investigative Unit, which led to a lot of arrests,” said Phahla.

He said SANParks Rangers assisted by the Air Wing and Special Rangers made numerous arrests inside the Park, which is the reason why so many cases are recorded. However, he cited that the increase was due to private and provincial parks being alert and vigilant.

In the Eastern Cape, poaching numbers have increased from 12 to 19, with 142 rhinos being killed in KwaZulu-Natal in 2018 compared to 222 in 2017. In the North West and other provinces the number has decreased.

Mokonyane said 1 028 rhinos were killed nationwide in 2017, but last year the number dropped to 769. She said it was the first time in five years that the annual figure was under 1000. The minister revealed that 422 of the 769 cases occurred inside a SANParks facility.