PRETORIA, July 24 – Fewer rhinoceroses were poached across South Africa in the first half of 2017, in comparison with same period of last year, Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa announced on Monday.
“There has been a slight decrease in the number of rhino poached nationally. A total of 529 rhino have been poached since January 2017, compared to 542 in the same period for 2016, representing a decrease of 13 rhinos,” Molewa said as addressed a media briefing in Cape Town.
“With regards to the Kruger National Park, which as you know has traditionally borne the brunt of poaching, a total of 243 rhino carcasses were found between January and the end of June 2017. This is compared to 354 in the same period in 2016. This represents a decrease of 34 percent.”
Molewa said despite the slight decline in poaching, which was a national priority crime, it remained a serious problem in South Africa.
“As we have always stated, these declining numbers do not mean we can proclaim victory. Nevertheless, the downward trend is being established, which is cause for cautious optimism,” she said.
“Whilst there has been a decrease in the number of rhino killed for their horns in the Kruger National Park and Mpumalanga, the number of rhino poached unfortunately increased in some other provinces.”
Molewa said the poachers were now also targeting elephants.
“It is with concern that we also report that in 2017, 30 elephants were poached in the Kruger National Park. The interventions being implemented to counter rhino poaching are also used to respond to this emerging threat,” she said.
“It is clear that more resources are required to address this challenge that we are experiencing in terms of both rhino and elephant poaching.”
The minister paid tribute to all South Africans involved in the fight against poaching.
“We are not claiming victory, but we should celebrate successes even when they are small. This also serves to motivate our citizens from all sectors – be they in the NGO community, the business community, civil society, and most of all, our ranger corps. Together we can do more,” she said.
Molewa was flanked Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and State Security Minister David Mahlobo at the briefing.