South Africa and Mozambique have signed the long-awaited memorandum of understanding (MOU) on biodiversity, conservation and management but hot pursuit for suspected rhino poachers is not yet a part of it.
The hot pursuit option was raised by retired SA Army general Johan Jooste, commanding officer: special projects for SANParks, as another method of preventing the continued decimation of particularly the Kruger National Park’s rhino population.
The Department of Environment Affairs said the MOU makes provision for a joint operations cross border protocol to be finalised by the management of national parks on both the South African and Mozambican sides of the international border between the two countries.
“Once this is approved by the safety and security clusters of both countries it will provide for cross border operations,” department spokesman Albi Modise said. He did not give a timeline for finalisation of the protocol.
Other efforts to stop, or at least slow down, the rate of rhino killing in Kruger include maintenance and erection of fencing along the park’s eastern (Mozambican) boundary; strengthening a buffer zone in Mozambique through the establishment of the Greater Lubumbo Conservancy; creating an intensive protection zone in the Limpopo National Park, deploying a well-trained and armed anti-poaching unit to collaborate with the Kruger National park anti-poaching unit and synchronising operational plans between the Kruger (South Africa) and Limpopo (Mozambique) parks.
Latest rhino kill statistics show Kruger has lost 185 of the 294 rhino killed to date this year. In 2010 the national loss of rhino was 333 but massive increases in poaching activity saw this figure rise to the all-time high of 1004 last year.
South Africa has committed just on R25 million to Mozambique to assist with that country’s anti-poaching efforts. The money has been earmarked for the implementation of counter-trafficking measures, the improvement of communication networks, the training and capacity building of field rangers, the provision of vital operational equipment, the deployment of sniffer dogs and community awareness projects.