The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) reports “a significant decrease” in poaching during the national lockdown which is attributed to ongoing anti-poaching work, amongst others.
In a statement, Minister Barbara Creecy said the “dedication of essential staff on high alert in the Kruger National Park, all other national parks as well as provincial and municipal game reserves” was a factor. The statement does not provide updated statistics on rhino and other poaching apart from pointing out how “encouraging” the decrease in rhino poaching since the beginning of the year is.
“Low demand for wildlife products and strengthened law enforcement at ports of entry could have contributed to the notable decline in number of rhino and elephant poached in conservation areas. There are indications that there is also a decline in marine poaching,” according to the statement.
Statistics released in February by DEFF showed 594 rhino poached in South Africa last year – 225 less than in 2018 and well down from the thousand plus recorded in 2014. That year saw 1 215 rhino poached – the since poaching statistics started being kept in democratic South Africa.
“Incursions into parks (particularly the Kruger National Park and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s Hluhluwe iMfolozi) and incidents detected related to rhino poaching remained stable and, in some instances, reduced during the lockdown period. One area where there was a slight increase in incursions into Kruger since the lockdown was in the Marula North region.
“The incursions were all from Mozambique, where there appears to be a general perception among poaching groups that Kruger rangers were all on lockdown and not at work.
“Arrests continue to be made across the country as anti-poaching work is recognised as an essential service and teams are fully operational.”