War on rhino poaching intensifies as general joins the fray

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The arsenal of men and machines arrayed against rhino poachers in the country’s flagship national park, Kruger, now has a general to lead it.

Retired SA Army Major General Johan Jooste was this week unveiled as the man who will be in overall command of the iconic national park’s efforts to for once and all stop rhino poaching.

So far this year 381 rhino have been killed by poachers in Kruger, well over half the national loss of 618.

Jooste, who has among others been acting SA Army Chief, head of corporate Services and chairman of the SA Army Foundation during a long and distinguished career in uniform, was his usual straightforward self when commenting on the new task.
“I am no messiah. What I am is a proven leader as well as a team player. I will do my best to earn acceptable results but it must be remembered, the fight against rhino poaching is not only about one individual. Success depends on collaboration and commitment from everyone tasked with the responsibility of conserving our natural heritage.
“The battle lines have been drawn and now the team and I are going to work hard to push back poachers.
“It is a fact that South Africa as a sovereign country is under attack by armed foreign nationals. This can be seen as a declaration of war. We are going to take the war to these bandits and we aim to win it,” the highly decorated and respected retired two-star general said in Skukuza.

SANParks chief executive Dr David Mabunda who is on record as saying the country was engaged in “a low intensity war” against poachers, said the arrival of Jooste in Kruger was another indication of the high priority the national conservation agency was giving to the scourge of rhino poaching.
“We are fully aware we will never be able to put a ranger behind every rhino. That’s why we are developing modern and innovative ways of protecting rhino against a well-organised onslaught.”

Jooste’s appointment is in line with SANParks multi-pronged approach to rhino poaching including a single operations command. He brings with him experience in military intelligence, border and area protection as well as contemporary knowledge of modern military technology, its use and integration at operational level as well as conservation knowledge.