There is no respite in the onslaught on South Africa’s rhinos. Several arrests have been made and, notably, a Vietnamese citizen has been convicted and sentenced to 10 years in jail. While these successes are encouraging, authorities are facing a highly organised and sophisticated enemy, with tentacles reaching across several borders. The challenge is in getting to the head of the snake.
South African National Parks (SANParks) confirmed on Wednesday, 28 July that the total figure for rhinos poached in the country since January this year, is 152. This figure encompasses the latest number of rhino poached in provincial parks and private reserves as well.
The Kruger National Park (KNP) alone has lost one black rhino and 65 white rhinos to poachers since January. The Provincial Parks suffered a loss of three black rhinos and 42 white rhinos while private game owners lost one black rhino and 40 white rhinos.
SANParks confirmed that they also add rhino calves that are found dead as a result of their mothers being poached, to the total figure as it has a high probability of death when left alone. This is considered poaching at a secondary level.
The estimated population of white rhinos for the country as a whole at 2009 was 19 409, while the black rhino population figures were at 1 678.
“Perhaps it is no longer appropriate to refer to this spate of illegal killing of rhinos as poaching given the levels of sophistication, violence, precision and the money behind it. We are dealing with unprecedented high levels of organised crime which the Police and all security agencies are helping to defeat,” said Dr David Mabunda, chief executive of SANParks. “We have worked hard as a country, to bring this species back from the brink of extinction and we will continue to defend it even if we become the last man standing,” added Dr Mabunda.