Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa told Parliament this week she was “cautiously optimistic the tide is being turned on the scourge of rhino poaching”.
Speaking during her budget vote in Parliament she said the number of rhinos poached last year was down to 1028 from 1054 the previous year. This is attributed to “multi-faceted interventions”.
This approach has, in recent weeks, seen security forces in the form of SA Army soldiers working alongside SANParks rangers in the Kruger National Park to arrest 10 suspected poachers. Other agencies involved in the multi-facetted interventions are the SA Police Service, SA Revenue Service and the national department of Justice and State Security.
Last year poachers killed 504 rhinos in the iconic game reserve compared to 662 the previous year.
Molewa told parliamentarians a sixth replenishment from the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) would add five million US$ to South Africa’s anti- and counter-poaching operations in South Africa over the next few years.
A further indication of the contribution made by soldiers deployed in the Kruger National Park to the national anti-poaching effort came in a ministerial reply to a recent Parliamentary question. Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said soldiers were involved in the apprehension or killing of 188 suspected poachers since 2010. The Kruger deployment is primarily a border protection one in terms of Operation Corona with soldiers from the Sand River base regularly working with rangers and other law enforcement agencies to protect rhino and other animal species from poachers.