PRETORIA– The number of poachers and traffickers arrested for rhino-related poaching offences in South Africa has doubled, says Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa.
“During 2016, the South African Police Service (SAPS) reported that a total of 680 poachers and traffickers were arrested for rhino-related poaching offences nationally. This is a marked increase in arrests from 317 in 2015,” she said in a statement Tuesday.
From the total number of arrests made, 417 were within and outside the Kruger National Park.
Molewa said she was pleased with the progress taking place at the Kruger National Park, as the area is the hardest hit by rhino poaching.
A total of 148 firearms were seized inside the park in 2016, and six just outside the park.
Highlighting the progress made on the implementation of the Integrated Strategic Management Approach, she said the strategy, which comprises four pillars — compulsory interventions, managing rhino populations, long-term sustainability interventions and new interventions — was yielding the desired results.
All of the four pillars are implemented in the context of regional and international co-operation.
A total of 1,054 rhino were poached in 2016, compared with 1,175 in 2015, representing a decline of 10.3 per cent.
“Specifically for the Kruger National Park, a total of 662 rhino carcasses were found in 2016 compared with 826 in 2015. This represents a reduction of 19.85 per cent in 2016,” Molewa said, noting that the progress was achieved despite a continued increase in the number of illegal incursions into the Kruger National Park.
She said while there had been a decrease in the number of rhino killed for their horns in the Kruger National Park and in Mpumalanga Province, the number of rhino poached had increased in some other provinces.
“This indicates that syndicates are feeling the pressure from the interventions being employed in the Kruger National Park. We are therefore prioritising these pressure points through enforcement operations,” Molewa said.
She also expressed concern over the 46 elephants which were poached in the Kruger National Park in 2016. “The interventions being implemented to counter rhino poaching are also used to respond to this emerging threat. It is clear that more financial resources are required to address this challenge that we are experiencing in terms of both rhino and elephant poaching,” she said.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK