National 3.3.2015 05:20 pm

120 rhinos poached in 2015 already

FILE PICTURE: Rhinos are pictured in a holding compund at the Kruger National Park. Picture: Refilwe Modise

FILE PICTURE: Rhinos are pictured in a holding compund at the Kruger National Park. Picture: Refilwe Modise

Less than three months into 2015, more than 120 rhino have already been poached in the Kruger National Park (KNP).

This was revealed by KNP’s Dani Pienaar in Skukusa on Africa Environment Day, being celebrated alongside World Wildlife Day yesterday.

Dr Moscow Marumo, South African National Parks (SANParks) chief director of biodiversity management and planning, said the day was to inform about the importance of celebrating the world’s biodiversity and to highlight the key challenges faced by a “community of nations around maintaining the healthy status of our global biodiversity”.

“We also celebrate by raising awareness of the multitude of benefits that conservation provides to the people of the world.

“It is a day to remind people of the urgent need to step up the fight against wildlife crime, which has wide ranging impacts on economic, environmental and social status on communities around world,” Marumo noted.Dr Jo Shaw of World Wildlife South Africa said this country was blessed with a magnificent diversity of wildlife and “has long been viewed as a world leader in conservation and a major wildlife tourism destination”.

“More recently, growing wealth in Asia and increased involvement of trans-national organised crime syndicates has elevated the global threat of illicit wildlife trafficking,” Shaw said.

“Whilst this threat is well recognised for our rhinos, a large number of other species, including reptiles and plants such as cycads, are also under serious pressure from illegal wildlife trade.

Shaw said that, due to the level of support required to protect rhinos, conservation resources were being diverted from elsewhere.

“So we need increased commitment to all our wildlife species. In the long-term, we need to see management of our natural resource with benefits to people, showing the clear links between people and nature,” Shaw said.

Various speakers on the day made the same point, that wildlife crime was a threat.

SANParks CEO Fundesile Mketeni said that, thanks to the the Kruger translocation programme, the park was was becoming a source of rhino for Southern Africa. “Wildlife crime is recognised as a national security threat,” Mketeni said.

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