Work underway to fight wildlife crime – Creecy

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Government is working around the clock to fight wildlife crime and corruption, especially in the Kruger National Park, said Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Minister, Barbara Creecy.

Citing the recent study published by ENACT Africa on corruption and criminality in the Kruger, she announced that the National Integrated Strategy to Combat Wildlife Crime was adopted by Cabinet earlier this month.

This means the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) Priority Committee on Wildlife Trafficking will now identify critical measures by all government agencies that can be implemented over the next six months.

According to reports, the probe found the internal corruption, breakdown of trust and staff cohesion plus worsening organised crime in Mpumalanga to be of greater threat to the future of the park than poaching.

“In the Kruger Park itself, we are focusing on improving the wellness and well-being of our staff so that they are not lured into the illicit trade,” she told Members of Parliament.

Measures include career path development and training; ranger wellness and counselling programmes; improvements in staff housing and putting in place an anonymous tip-off line and setting up liaison committees with local communities.

In addition, she said the Tourism Business Council of South Africa has installed hi-tech surveillance equipment at the Numbi Gate.

Meanwhile, the Kruger Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism is supporting a community training and development initiative to improve security around this access point.

The Minister was speaking during the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment’s 2023/24 Budget Speech vote in Parliament.

In addition, she said the department will this year support Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife to fight rhino poaching and related wildlife crimes.

The department said it will also contribute R40 million to improve the boundary fencing.