13 August 2014
South Africa will build on the robust measures already in place to curb rhino poaching in the country, says Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa.
Addressing a media briefing in Pretoria on Tuesday on the outcomes of the 2013 rhino census, conducted in the Kruger National Park, Molewa said that South Africa would continue to push strategies to stabilise the rhino population.
“During the latest survey in 2013, conducted by SANParks, the rhino population survey showed that between 8 400 and 9 600 white rhinos are presently living in the Kruger National Park,” the minister said.
South African National Parks (SANParks) conducts periodic population surveys. As of 2012, South Africa’s rhino population was estimated at 21 000.
South Africa is home to 82% of Africa’s rhinos in total, including 93% of the continent’s white rhinos and 39% of its black rhinos.
Molewa said the government was aware that rhino poaching was a multi-billion dollar worldwide illicit trade. This, she said, was the reason they would put more emphasis on an integrated strategic management approach in order to save rhinos from poachers.
“[W]e will continue to strengthen holistic and integrated interventions and explore new innovative options to ensure the long-term survival of the species.”
Molewa said that, while the rhino population in the Kruger National Park had stabilised, the translocation of 1 450 rhino from the park between 1997 and 2013 had contributed to the rhino population’s growth in the country.
“Poaching, natural deaths and the translocation of rhino from the Kruger National park presently match that of rhino births.”
At the same time, the minister said, South Africa would continue to work with other countries to curb poaching.
She added that forensic technology, including DNA analysis, in the judicial process would be introduced to support the successful prosecution of wildlife criminals.
National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega, also addressing Tuesday’s briefing, warned that poachers were becoming more sophisticated in their methods.
She said she had directed a team of detectives trained in wildlife crime investigations, forensics experts, the SA Police Service air wing, the flying squad and the dog unit to assist the SANParks board with current investigations on poaching.
“This additional team will attend to all the outstanding and new crime scenes and continue to do proper crime scene investigation and management.”
At the same time, Phiyega urged communities living around game reserves to continue playing their role in helping police arrest poachers.
“It is our ultimate objective to establish a long-term solution to drastically reduce the incidents of rhino poaching,” she said.