Three hundred and sixty-six arrests in connection with rhino poaching were made in the iconic Kruger National Park in the 18 month period ending 31 July this year.
This was revealed by Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Barbara Creecy in response to a Parliamentary question asked by Democratic Alliance MP James Lorimer.
He also asked the Minister for arrest details over the same period in other national parks and was told there were seven in Pilanesberg in North West and three in Mokala near Kimberley in Northern Cape.
Fifteen of those arrested worked for the national conservation agency, SANParks.
Lorimer was also told by the Minister that Kruger lost 472 white rhino to poaching between 1 April, 2018 and 31 July this year. In the same period Mokala lost one, Marakele in Limpopo two and Pilanesberg 28.
Thirty-two endangered black rhino were killed by poachers in the flagship Kruger National Park and Pilanesberg lost three.
Creecy added the “persistent threat” of rhino poaching had seen South Africa implementing a holistic, integrated and multidimensional response, involving her department, the SA Police Service (SASPS), Hawks, SA National Defence Force (SANDF), SARS’ customs division, National Prosecuting Authority and the State Security Agency”. South Africa was also collaborating with neighbouring countries such as Mozambique and Zimbabwe on rhino and other wildlife poaching.
She said this approach saw “a moderate decline” of 91 incidents in the first seven months of this year compared to 2018.
Lorimer acknowledged Creecy”s “moderate decline” comment adding “the big question remains: are we winning the battle against rhino poaching?”
“My focus right now is to get that question answered. If we are not winning we may need to adjust our strategy to ensure survival of this species,” he told defenceWeb.