This is according to Kruger Mission Commander Lieutenant-Colonel Sakkie Stuurman who was speaking on the military presence in the park.
Earlier, veterinarian Dr Marcus Hoffman had said 80% of Africa’s remaining rhino were in South Africa. “At our last count we estimated between 8 500 and 9 500 of them were in the Kruger. We also believe there are 20 405 black rhino left, and only 5 055 white rhino.”
But despite a multi-pronged approach between the park rangers, the army, which consisted of 220 pairs of boots on the ground, and the South African Police Task Force, illegal hunting was still continuing and at the end of the day, said Stuurman, the army’s reason for being in the park was to patrol the border between South Africa and Mozambique.
“Despite challenging conditions, morale is high. Achievements are difficult to measure due to the nature of our operations but we have suppressed illegal hunting in Lower Sabi. Also, statistics for November are our highest monthly successes registered to date.”
Since the security contract responsible for outsourcing the service provider for entry control lapsed, a new division has sprung up at the park under retired army Lt-Col Victor Nxumalo.
He is in charge of 187 staff at the park’s nine entry points. “We believe we have shown our usefulness with the arrest of two women who were trying to bring 142kg of dagga into the park in October.”
Expect to see much tighter security in future, he said.