The latest statistics from the South African Department of Environmental Affairs has shown that the last 2 months has been a bloody time for the rhino. 100 rhinos have been killed in South Africa in under 2 months. It’s now almost inevitable that the number of rhino killed in 2012 will be greater than 2011 which itself was one of the worst on record.
The latest statistics were released yesterday by the department after responsibility for collecting the details passed from the South African National Parks.
The release stated that ‘The latest rhino poaching statistics indicate that a total of 381 rhinos have been killed since the beginning of this year. The total number of arrests remains at 199.‘ Just 5 years ago in 2007 the annual number of rhinos poached in South Africa was just 13.
Only 2 of south Africa’s states have escaped the impact of poaching this year – Free State and Northern Cape while poachers concentrated their activities once again on the Kruger National Park which saw almost half of the deaths. So far this year the Kruger National Park have seen 236 rhinos killed.
As well as releasing the figures for the rhino losses the Department of Environmental Affairs also released a break down in the number of people currently being held or have been arrested so far this year.
Out of a total of 199 arrests 176 of them have been poachers while 10 people have been arrested for receiving rhino parts and 13 arrests have been made of couriers.
South Africa has begun a concerted effort to reduce poaching of rhino be boosting security at its national parks and specialist teams of investigators have been recruited. The south African wildlife police – the Green Scorpions – have also been boosting their operations.
In August the Green Scorpions undertook a number of raids on taxidermists and tanneries under Operation Skhumba and charges are likely against those operations who failed to keep the correct biodiversity records and permits.
South Africa is also working at an international level in order to combat trading in rhino products. In August the high level delegation met with authorities in Hong Kong to boost wildlife law enforcement co-operation and to provide for intellegenceand technology sharing.
South African authorities have also recently boosted international co-operation with law enforcement in Vietnam which is the main destination country in the international trade of rhino horn.
Other activities that South Africa are undertaking to combat the increase in rhino poaching was announced in August and include:
- The publication and implementation of the norms and standards for the marking of rhinoceros horn and for the hunting of rhinoceros for trophy hunting purposes. The norms and standards state that all rhino horns whether acquired by a legal dehorning procedure, natural mortality or any other means; must be micro-chipped. As mentioned previously, DNA samples of the rhino horn and blood must be collected from all live rhino darted for translocation, treatment or any other management purpose. Furthermore, hunting applications must be accompanied by amongst others, proof of membership to a hunting association and proof of previous experience in hunting of any African species. In addition, a hunting client may only hunt one white rhino for trophy hunting purposes in a twelve month period. As a result, the government of South Africa have not received any hunting permit requests from the alleged consumers of rhino horn: Vietnam, Thailand or China since the implementation of the norms and standards.
- The Council of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) has approved funding to the tune of R25m that will be injected into efforts aimed at strengthening the current wildlife forensic capabilities in South Africa to combat wildlife crimes such as wildlife trafficking.
- The Department of Environmental Affairs has appealed to the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to conduct inspections and verify that the white rhinoceros trophies exported from South Africa to Vietnam are still in the possession of the hunters. Vietnamese authorities have failed to confirm this in writing and as a result, the Department has recommended to all conservation authorities that hunting permits for white rhinos be refused to all Vietnamese citizens.
- Adding to the 500 rangers deployed at the Kruger National Park, an additional 150 rangers have been deployed to fight rhino poaching. The park has become the most targeted by rhino poachers having lost a total of 187 rhinos to illegal killing since the beginning of this year. The South African National Defence Force has also returned to the 350km of national border in Kruger National Park and other country borders.
South Africa Department of Environmental Affairs: Rhino poaching update 12th september 2012.