The latest Department of Environment Affairs statistics on rhino poaching show South Africa is losing these prized animals at a rate of more than two a day.
The kill rate since the beginning of the year is 2,5 animals a day which translates into 146, the same number of rhino killed in the Kruger National Park during the whole of 2010. It is also just about on par with last year’s all-time high of 1 004 rhino killed.
The iconic game reserve remains the prime target for poachers, the increase in patrolling activity and a more militaristic approach to the poaching problem notwithstanding. Ninety-five rhino have fallen to poachers’ high-powered hunting rifles in the just on two million hectare wildlife sanctuary in two months.
Limpopo and North West, each with 14 rhino killed, rank a distant second behind Kruger in the just released statistics with 10 rhino kills reported from KwaZulu-Natal.
The number of arrests connected to rhino poaching in the first two months of this year is 44, representing just over 12% of last year’s 343 arrests.
The defence community, in the form of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) and the local defence industry, is an active participant in anti-rhino poaching operations in Kruger.
Soldiers deployed on border protection duty regularly assist the Kruger ranger corps and other law enforcement agencies in anti-poaching operations while companies such as Denel and the Paramount Group have made put a UAV and a number of reconnaissance aircraft in the park to improve intelligence gathering and surveillance.