While nowhere near the same level as rhino poaching, a marked increase in the number of elephants killed by poachers could well signal the start of another onslaught on wildlife in the Kruger National Park.
According to the park’s General Manager: Communications and Marketing, William Mabasa, 19 elephants have been killed in Kruger this year with 12 falling to poachers’ high-powered hunting rifles in September and October.
“We are saddened by the latest developments in the northern part of Kruger where the majority of elephants have been poached so far.
“We lost two elephants at the beginning of the year and then it went quiet until July when another three elephants were poached. This was followed by two more in August, seven in September and five in October,” he said.
Last year only two elephants were lost to poachers in the iconic game reserve.
“Given the situation on the rest of the continent as far as the widespread poaching of elephants is concerned, we cannot allow this destabilisation of a key species to continue any further,” he said, adding the park’s ranger corps and its “partners in the security sector (including the SA National Defence Force) would show the same dedication they have displayed in the fight against rhino poaching”.
The Department of Environmental Affairs has not released any official rhino poaching figures since August when it indicated South Africa had lost 749 rhinos, of which 544 were killed in Kruger. Stoprhinopoachingnow, a leading non-government organisation in the fight again poaching of this Big Five species, maintains more than 900 rhinos had been killed nationally by mid-October.