All South Africans must work together to end rhino poaching – Molewa

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Environmental Affairs Minister, Edna Molewa, calls on all South Africans to join hands with government to put an end to rhino poaching by reporting suspected poaching activities.
“By blowing the whistle on all forms of wildlife crime, you are not only contributing towards saving a species for future generations to enjoy and benefit from, you are also contributing to a safer society,” she said in a statement released to coincide with World Rhino Day.
“While it is important to acknowledge the efforts of government departments and agencies in implementing the Integrated Strategic Management of Rhinoceros approach; at the same time we must recognise the efforts of our communities, the NGO community, business, and all ordinary South Africans who are doing their part,” Molewa said.
“As home to the largest population of rhino in the world, South Africa continues to have a proud record for species conservation despite the grim impact of the illicit transnational wildlife trade on our rhino we continue to register successes in bringing poaching numbers down.”

According to the Department of Environmental Affairs, South Africa brought the rhino back from the brink of extinction in the 1960s, due mainly to the efforts of the then Natal Parks Board (today Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife) and today has an estimated 20 000 black and white rhino.

Molewa’s department credited this achievement to the collaborative conservation efforts of government departments and agencies, private rhino owners, NGOs and communities living adjacent to national parks as well as state and privately-owned conservation areas.

The department used World Rhino Day to reassure South Africans government has strict legislative provisions in place to ensure the domestic trade in rhino horn takes place in a properly regulated manner.
“The international trade in rhino horn remains prohibited in terms of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
“Bringing local communities into the mainstream of conservation is central to government’s anti-poaching strategy. To this end, World Rhino Day is as an opportunity to build and instil a culture of responsible citizenship among communities adjacent to conservation areas,” the department said.

Through the National Biodiversity Strategy (BES) government aims to give historically disadvantaged communities a greater stake in the wildlife economy, including through game donation and supporting community-owned tourism ventures.
“Wildlife tourism is the mainstay of our country’s economy; rhino poaching negatively impacts our reputation as a tourism destination, which in turn impacts the ability of the tourism sector to generate jobs and sustainable livelihoods, especially for communities in rural areas where most of our parks are located,” Molewa said.