The Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) is currently underway in Johannesburg and it has been marked by a decline in rhino poaching in South Africa’s world renowned Kruger National Park.
This was divulged by Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa before the conference start when she said between January and the end of August this year 458 poached rhino carcasses were found in Kruger, compared to 4557 in the same period last year.
“This represents an almost 18% decline in the number of rhino poached,” she said adding poaching rates – the number of carcasses as a percentage of the number of live rhino – reduced by 15,5 % compared to January/August 2015.
“These figures come amid a 27,8% increase in the number of illegal incursions into Kruger in the first eight months of the year – 2 115 for the first eight months of the year.”
Nationally, 702 rhino have been poached since the start of 2016. Between January and July last year 795 rhino were killed by poachers.
The Minister is concerned the success of anti-poaching efforts in Kruger has led to poaching syndicate moving operations to other provinces. The number of rhino poached has increased in KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and Northern Cape when compared to last year but nationally, she said, there was still “a downward trend” in rhino poaching.
She also expressed her concern at the increase in elephant poaching saying 36 elephants had been killed in Kruger since the beginning of the year.
The combined efforts of the Department of Environmental Affairs, law enforcement and conservation agencies with the support of international partners and donors are slowly but steadily making a dent in rhino poaching numbers she said.