In the first four months of this year there have been nine recorded incursions a day into the Kruger National Park with the sole purpose of poaching rhinos and the wold famous game reserve lost 232 rhinos to poachers’ weapons during the same period.
“Despite this harsh reality, the number of carcasses (poached rhinos) in Kruger for the same period has decreased from 302 to 232,” Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa told a media briefing in Pretoria on Sunday.
In the first four months of last year anti- and counter-rhino poaching statistics collected in Kruger showed seven incursions a day by those intent on killing rhinos purely for their horns. She said 206 people had been arrested in connection with rhino poaching nationally since the beginning of this year but did not give specific figures for Kruger.
The decrease in rhino kills was carried through to national level with 363 rhinos poached countrywide in the first four months of 2016. During the same period last year the national figure was 404, she said.
“Had it not been for the joint efforts of our people, including the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), SA Police Service and others, the number of carcasses would have been significantly higher,” Molewa said, adding as the responsible Minister she was “not claiming victory, but we are claiming success that accounts for the downward trend”.
The 12 month period ending in March this year saw 49 rhino poaching cases finalised in the courts. A hundred and three accused were involved with 80 of them convicted and sentenced to between 14 to 20 years in jail.
Referring to the use of technology, Molewa said: “Technology makes things possible, but only people can make things happen. To demonstrate our combined forces are able to be more proactive owing to the constant sharing of information by vigilant and involved citizens and visitors.
“A big part of the current results are due to the implementation and utilisation of technologies in the fields of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), night vision equipment, early warning and detection, as well as tracking. We appreciate the contributions made by SA Revenue Services, SANParks and SAPS in enhancing the canine capabilities in Kruger, which is proving to be a formidable threat to poachers,” Molewa said.