Amanda Watson
News Editor
3 minute read
20 Feb 2017
5:45 am

Possible decline in rhino poaching

Amanda Watson

According to Oscap founder Allison Thompson, her organisations’ statistics stand at 1 105 rhinos killed during 2016, and 115 so far in 2017.

A local NGO, Outraged SA Citizens Against Poaching (Oscap), has revealed a possible further decline in the numbers of rhinos poached in South Africa for 2016.

According to Oscap founder Allison Thompson, her organisation’s statistics stand at 1105 for 2016, and 115 rhino killed for 2017.

The release comes on the back of the second postponement by the Department of Environmental Affairs of its report back on the progress of the implementation of the Integrated Strategic Management Approach of Rhinoceros, aka what progress is being made in the fight against rhino poaching.

“We had to postpone out briefing owing firstly to the fact the slot we had wanted to use on Thursday was a cabinet briefing slot,” DEA spokesperson Albi Modise said yesterday.

“The Friday slot we thought could be used could not work. We are still identifying a suitable slot which we will communicate soon.”

Modise said the DEA aimed to hold the briefing this week.

A fuming Thompson said it had been nine months since environmental minister Edna Molewa’s last briefing in May.

“With the amount of crime and corruption being reported by IPID of SAPS and Hawks involvement at OR Tambo International Airport which is the Ministers ‘choice’ exit port for their proposed rhino horn export trade I am sure that a press conference at this time would be a tad uncomfortable for all concerned, not least the Minister of State Security David Mahlobo who is under the spotlight following the recent Al-Jazeerah documentary,” Thompson said.

It was recently revealed by the Hawks the “nail salon” Mahlobo had been visiting was under investigation for being a brothel.

“When the Minister decided to change the regularity of the stats from monthly to quarterly she stated that they did not have the capacity to do monthly stats but it appears that they sure have capacity when it comes to drafting regulations for opening a domestic trade in rhino horn.  Their priorities seem somewhat skewed,” Thompson added.

“They are proposing that they will have the capacity to manage a permit system but are unable to manage adding a few numbers together for a monthly poaching update.”

The last official number of rhino poached was 702 rhino nationally between January and end of August.

Of concern also is the level of elephant poaching, 36 having been killed for their ivory in the Kruger National Park by September last year, the last official statement revealed.

And while arrests are being made – 414 between January and August and more than 24 so far this year – and walloping sentences being handed down – 28 years for Simon Ngubane according to The Lowvelder – they seem only to egg people on.

One organisation feeling the effect was elephantsalive.org, which reported one of its collared elephants, Charlie, killed in Mozambique’s Parque Nacional de Limpopo (Limpopo National Park or LNP) which shares an open border with the Kruger.

“There were many tell-tale signs indicating that elephant poaching was a real problem in LNP but we never dreamt that Charlie, our first collared ambassador in the Park would be slain on the 19th of November, just over two months after collaring him,” the organisations Dr Michelle Henley wrote in an article on the website.

“Shortly after Charlie’s death, Pieter Jansen van Rensburg was arrested for hunting in LNP which is forbidden in the Park. Charlie had become yet another casualty to man’s greed only a couple of hundred meters from the Kruger border.  He had also become our first collared elephant to be poached and we were devastated.”

Four elephant carcasses, including Charlie’s, were found in the park before Van Rensburg’s arrest.

With poaching having showed a decline in 2015 to 1 175 from the 2014 all-time high of 1215 rhino poached, it only remains for Molewa to fill in the blank spaces between September and December last year, officially.

– amandaw@citizen.co.za