Seven Integrated Wildlife Zones are being introduced across South Africa to protect the country’s rhino.
Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Minister, Barbara Creecy, said by demarcating areas primarily around rhino populations, wildlife in the area and people living in and around conservation areas will be protected.
Creecy said the introduction of the Integrated Wildlife Zones, similar to the Integrated Protection Zones previously utilised within national parks and provincial reserves, sees an expansion of the effort to protect the world’s largest black and white rhino populations.
“By introducing a zoning approach, the necessary resources can be redirected to areas most in need of support. It furthermore ensures cooperation between the state and private role players and is aligned to the objectives of South Africa’s National Integrated Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking,” the Minister explained.
She added that the initiative prevents borders and boundaries from inhibiting planning and the implementation of actions aimed at halting rhino poaching and the smuggling of rhino horn.
“The concept is based on multi-party cooperation, but will ensure the use of appropriate technologies to ensure surveillance, early warning and detection — all in an effort to become more pro-active.”
As the country joins the globe in celebrating World Rhino Day 2020, Creecy has applauded the coming together of key role-players who have joined the national government in their fight against rhino poaching through the utilisation of new and tested technologies.
The Wildlife Zone initiative is supported by the Peace Parks Foundation with funding from the US Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, the Dutch, Swedish and UK People’s Postcode Lotteries.
The Minister said the department is proud to partner with Peace Parks Foundation and all government and non-governmental organisations that will be involved in this important initiative.
“Despite the marked decrease in rhino poaching during the COVID-19 national lockdown, government’s target remains an end to rhino poaching. As a key member of the iconic Big Five, we hope that as our provincial borders open, more people will be able to travel to our national parks and other conservation areas to experience first-hand our natural heritage and see these ancient animals in the wild,” the Minister said.