Intelligence, including cross-border activities, needs to be upped to halt rhino poaching


Proactive and concerted crime intelligence efforts including cross-border intelligence initiatives have been suggested as a way of combatting rhino poaching.

“SA Police Service (SAPS) intelligence services should be able to infiltrate and neutralise whatever plans poachers might have even before they get implemented, especially seeing they recruit locals to carry out these plans,” committee chair Francois Beukman said during a meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Police this week.

He told the committee the police needed to strengthen relations with Interpol and jointly come up with “effective cross-border interventions”.

The issue of hot pursuit has previously been raised as another weapon in the arsenal of those tasked with protecting South Africa’s roughly 21 000 strong rhino population. It was suggested by retired general Johan Jooste, commanding officer of SANParks special projects, which includes combating rhino and other poaching.

The SA Police Service, in the form of National Commissioner Riah Phiyega, said there was an agreement between members of the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Co-operation Organisation (SARPCCO).
“We have a hot pursuit agreement meaning when somebody crosses the border we do have an agreement with Mozambique to follow through,” she told a media briefing called by environment Affairs Minister Edna Molewa last September.

Committee members wanted to see the SAPS intelligence system “immerse itself” among people living in communities around, for example, the Kruger National Park. This would, they maintain, allow for intelligence to be gathered and used to curb poaching activities.

The Committee also wanted to know why the SAPS had not yet conducted integrity tests and lifestyle audits among its detectives at Kruger, especially seeing that Kruger National Park management has been implementing this strategy among their rangers and staff members to prevent and detect any involvement of their rangers and staff members who could be involved in this illegal act.

Rhino poaching continues unabated, with the first 22 days of this year seeing 49 rhino kills reported. Last year’s rhino kill was 1 215, the highest since recordkeeping started and 211 higher than the 2014 figure, the first one to pass the thousand mark.