3 May 2012
While the government is stepping up measures to combat rhino poaching in South Africa, joint initiatives are called for if the war is to be won, says Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa.
Speaking in Cape Town on Wednesday ahead of her department’s budget vote in Parliament, Molewa said South Africa had lost a total of 199 rhinos to poacher since the beginning of the year.
“I would like to assure you that the department, our provinces and its public entities such as SANParks view this illegal killing of our national treasure in a very serious light, and will continue to prioritise our fight against this crime jointly with our security cluster ministers and their departments,” she said.
Molewa said the government would continue to implement the initiatives set up last year, as well as introduce added measures to combat poaching.
South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members, working in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies, have been deployed to various borders, and a crime line has been established to improve cooperation with the public as well as to provide easier access for would-be informers.
Cross-border conservation partnerships
Molewa said the ongoing scourge underscored the importance of collaboration between southern African countries in the development of transfrontier conservation areas.
“The resolution is not managing through fences, but to continue the southern African initiative of cross-boundary conservation partnerships,” she said.
The minister added that South Africa was working with perceived transit or consumer countries in the People’s Republic of China and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
According to the latest statistics from the Department of Environmental Affairs, the Kruger National Park is still the most targeted area, having lost a total of 119 rhinos from the beginning of this year.
Targeted provinces include Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West and KwaZulu-Natal, together accounting for 73 of the rhinos killed this year.
A total of 122 arrests have so far been made, of which 108 were poachers, 10 receivers/couriers, and four couriers/buyers.