Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) chief whip Narend Singh has pointed to another bleak year for conservation of one of South Africa’s iconic wildlife species – the rhino.
Speaking in the National Assembly this week he is reported as saying there appears to be no letting up in the “relentless rhino poaching onslaught” across Africa with South Africa on track to lose more than a thousand rhino for the fifth straight year.
News24 has him saying 483 rhino have been killed in the first five and a half months of 2017. There is no official figure on rhino kill statistics currently available from the Department of Environmental Affairs, the national custodian of the country’s natural heritage, but Singh’s kill statistic is borne out by conservation NGO stoprhinoroachingnow. Research conducted by it indicates “more than 400 rhino have been poached in South Africa by mid-May, 2017”.
He told MPs it was time for government to take stronger and more decisive action against rhino poachers warning the “financial cost of the poaching wars are considerable, but the losses to future generations will be incalculable if the battle to save the rhino is lost”.
With a reported national rhino kill figure of 483 there has also been an upsurge in rhino poaching in KwaZulu-Natal with 119 kills reported to mid-May. Almost all the mortalities have been recorded in the province’s flagship reserve, Hluhluwe-IMfolozi.
“With our country still losing three rhino a day we dare not cut budgets and think we are winning. Within a few short years there will be no rhino left unless government acts across the board,” he warned.
“Treasury must count the cost to our country of illegal rhino horn trafficking and tourism must count the future cost of lost revenue.
“Justice must create circuit courts in all districts where protected areas occur and police must investigate the nefarious syndicates who are operating freely. Safety and Security must refit our military with green berets to defend our natural heritage.
“Environmental Affairs must study the pros and cons of dealing with existing stockpiles of legal horn. Communities living around protected areas must receive incentives and training to become partners in this fight,” News24 reports Singh as saying.