The long-awaited release of rhino poaching statistics for 2017 was made by the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa last week, Zululand Observer reports.
Although she played around with figures and only emphasised the drop in numbers in the Kruger National Park, she did not reveal the actual deaths in other areas.
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The latest number of poached rhino issued by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife is that 207 rhino were killed in 2017.
This is a drop from 222 in 2016, despite the increased pressure on KZN reserves.
Anti-poaching activities in Kruger have also given positive results and a slight decrease in deaths have been recorded, but it is still too high, and the problem has now moved to other provinces.
Another concern is that only one in 10 rhino poachings resulted in convictions.
Molewa reported 1 028 rhinos were poached from 1 January to 31 December.
This represents a decrease of 26 animals compared to 2016.
The increase in poaching in five provinces, namely KZN, the Northern Cape, Mpumalanga, the Free State and North West is cause for concern.
Poaching syndicates are connected to cross-border wildlife trafficking networks and continue to redirect their efforts to where the risk is lower and the benefits greater.
It was also reported that 21 officials from within the anti-poaching authority were amongst the arrests for poaching-related offences.
The DEA reported an increase in convictions from arrests made.
In 2017, 518 arrests linked to rhino poaching and horn-trafficking were made, of which 111 criminals were successfully convicted.
This 21% conviction rate is an increase from 2016 which saw a 8.5% conviction rate following 680 arrests.
A number of heavy prison sentences were meted out to convicted poachers and middlemen, but they all received an option of a fine.
Strategies not yet implemented
The government is yet to adopt the National Integrated Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking, or Regulations on
Domestic Trade in Rhino Horn.
A Memorandum of Understanding signed with Mozambique in 2014 has also not been consolidated, with the Implementation Agreement yet to be confirmed.