Dramatic increase in KwaZulu-Natal rhino poaching

Rhino poaching has shown a dramatic increase in KwaZulu-Natal, with at least 159 rhinos having been killed in 2016.

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife spokesman Musa Mntambo said: “There has been a big increase in the number of rhino killed. Our arrests have also increased.”

Mntambo said that October and November had seen an increase in rhino poaching across the province. He said that there had been 129 arrests during 2016 in relation to rhino poaching in the province.

In 2015 the number of rhino poached in the province was 97.

By early November 2016 the Mercury newspaper reported that 132 rhinos had been killed in KwaZulu-Natal, which means that 27 rhinos have been killed in the past two months alone.

The dramatic increase in the number of rhinos lost to poaching prompted KwaZulu-Natal premier Willies Mchunu earlier this year to announce the formation of an Anti-Rhino Poaching Task Team.

In 2014 there were 99 rhinos poached while in 2013 it was 85; and in 2012 it was 66; in 2011 it was 34 and in 2010 it was 38.

Earlier this year, in October, Ezemvelo chief executive David Mabunda told legislators that the moratorium on new appointments was having a negative effect on anti-poaching activities.

At the time there were 179 vacant posts in Ezemvelo, but Mntambo said on Tuesday that earlier in December advertisements had gone out and the organisation was hopeful that it could fill some of the vacancies.

Rhino poaching has escalated to alarming levels over the past decade with only 13 rhino officially being reported as having been poached in South Africa in 2007.

In 2014, statistics compiled by NGO Save the Rhino showed the figure had peaked at 1 215 and dropped slightly last year to 1 175 in 2015. That is about a 9000% increase in less than a decade.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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