Poaching is not a one-dimensional problem and cannot be solved by militarisation alone Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa told the African Ranger awards in Cape Town this week.
“It necessitates an integrated approach drawing together all sectors of society — government, the private sector, the NGO and donor community and importantly, communities,” Molewa said.
She said South Africa manages and conserves its biodiversity in the face of a multitude of threats.
Molewa said factors that incentivise people to become involved in illegal trade in wildlife must be addressed.
“We must alleviate poverty and unemployment in areas surrounding conservation areas. When communities are brought into the mainstream of conservation through creation of socio-economic opportunities from wildlife, the incentive to be involved in illegal activities will be addressed,” Molewa said.
As the country with the world’s largest population of rhino, South Africa is battling transnational syndicates who lure vulnerable communities to become involved in rhino poaching.
“Hundreds of rangers are killed annually across the world in the line of duty. They don’t only fall prey to poachers’ guns, but are targeted by insurgents in conflicts such as that in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Zimbabwe and Mozambique as well as by criminal syndicates involved in activities including illegal logging in countries such as Senegal,” the Minister said.
She appealed to the donor community to support the work of rangers even more than at present.
“We rely on you to help keep our rangers and other people safe, whether they are on night patrols in our game reserves, or on the high seas working to prevent poaching and smuggling of marine resources. Work with us, come to see what our rangers do and become more involved,” the Minister said.