Eighty-two dead rhino in 37 days is the shock statistic that reveals escalating levels of poaching taking place across the country.
As has been the case in previous years, the Kruger National Park remains the preferred target of poachers – 75% of rhinos killed (61) to date this year were slaughtered inside its boundaries.
SANParks chief executive Dr David Mabunda has admitted the country’s flagship park “bled” but is quietly confident the new, more militaristic approach to anti-poaching operations will yield results.
Department of Environmental Affairs spokesman Albi Modise said the remaining rhinos were killed in KwaZulu-Natal (eight), North West (six), Mpumalanga (four) and Limpopo (three).
On the positive side, 21 suspected poachers have been arrested by rangers, police and other law enforcement agencies in the first five weeks of the year.
In terms of Kruger anti-poaching operations, now headed up by former SA Army Major General Johan Jooste, 14 suspects have been arrested and three have been killed in firefights.
Noting the new anti-poaching approach in the country’s flagship national park, Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said she was confident of a turnaround in both poaching losses and arrests.
“This is because of initiatives presently being implemented.”
Last year 668 rhino were killed by poachers nationally.