Provincial legislature member maintains KZN rhino poaching out of hand


Reports of more than 70 rhino killed, presumably for their horns, in KwaZulu-Natal in the first three months of this year has seen a call for an investigation into rhino poaching in Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife parks and reserves to be “unlocked”.

The call by Heinz de Boer, Democratic Alliance (DA) provincial legislature member and EDTEA (Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs) spokesman, comes in the wake of Daily Maverick report on “at least 75 rhino butchered for their horn in the opening months of 2022” in the province.

De Boer notes in a statement this puts KwaZulu-Natal “well on the road to the species facing extinction within the next five years”.

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi, the flagship park of the provincial conservation agency, was where rangers and wildlife veterinarians and other specialists worked to build a viable South African white rhino population from a base of just on a hundred animals in the mid-20th century.

In search of information not apparently available from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, De Boer submitted a Public Access to Information Application (PAIA).

“Notwithstanding the seriousness there is silence from the provincial executive and the EDTEA MEC Ravi Pillay,” he said adding the “exponential rise in poaching was also absent from recent committee meetings”.

“The decision to submit a PAIA to Premier Sihle Zikalala’s office in an attempt to finally have the secretive report of the task team into rhino poaching in KZN released comes after years of delays.

“It was commissioned by the KZN provincial cabinet in 2016 and handed to the Premier on completion in 2020. It allegedly details all aspects of the Ezemvelo entity that led to rhino poaching in KZN,” De Boer’s statement reads.

He maintains the report could assist in, among others, action needed to curb poaching. This includes “a cash injection” for field rangers for equipment and training and “a fully revised budget” with helicopter support and “fuel for vehicles”. Equipment-wise De Boer sees new rifles, ammunition, bulletproof vests, night vision equipment and thermal drones necessary “to take the fight to poaching syndicates”.