By John Yeld
A formal memorandum of understanding aimed at controlling biodiversity crimes like rampant rhino poaching is ready for signing between South Africa and Mozambique. But the signing has been delayed over the past 18 months by Mozambique, although Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said she did not believe there was any sinister motive. It was partly the result of a new minister being appointed there.
Noting that two scheduled meetings had been postponed and that she wished the signing had happened “yesterday”, she said: “It is as urgent as possible.”
Molewa was responding to questions at a media briefing on Monday after delivering her budget address in the National Assembly.
Many rhino poachers are believed to enter South Africa from Mozambique in the area where the border fence between the Kruger National Park and Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park was removed to allow the development of the multi-national Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, or peace park.
Kruger has borne the brunt of rhino poaching and this year at least 242 of the 350-plus animals poached thus far have been killed there.
Molewa said there was a “joint shared vision” within the South African government to restore the fence and that finance was available. The plan to restore the fence was not to negate the spirit of the peace park but would “really cool down and stabilise the scourge of poaching”.
However, the issue had been referred to the Presidency and would be discussed by presidents Jacob Zuma and Armando Guebuza “as soon as there is space and time”.
Expressing her concern for ranger Andrew Desmet who was shot during an encounter with poachers in Kruger last week, Molewa said: “(Rhino poaching) is a very serious problem and the entire country is really very worried. It is really very, very violent.” More....