By Russel Molefe
SA will celebrate World Wildlife Day on Monday against the backdrop of the of the high level of rhino poaching.
This prompted the international world to call on authorities to clean up their act.
At the 16th conference of the parties (COP16) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), SA was slapped with a resolution to put measures in place to curb rhino poaching.
Cites also directed that authorities should enhance bilateral cooperation with Mozambique to boost anti-poaching efforts and curbing the trade in rhino horn.
The World Wildlife Day celebrations will be held at the Kruger National Park (KNP) which borders Mozambique and which has been greatly hit by rhino poaching.
Of the 1004 rhinos poached last year, 665 were killed in the KNP which has been labelled the epicentre of rhino killing.
The celebrations will be addressed by the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa who is expected to outline plans and measures being applied to curb rhino poaching.
The high level of poaching has led to authorities declaring it a national security risk. But SA National Parks (SanParks) spokesperson Ike Phaahla said the battle against poaching has not been lost and there was still a healthy population of rhinos in SA.
He said the incidences of poaching had decreased by 27% though the number of rhinos being killed has increased.
“There have been more arrests and convictions and our rangers have been trained thoroughly and are becoming the best anti-poaching unit on the continent,” Phaahla said.
Experts like Dr Ian Player have suggested some rhinos be moved to other countries to preserve the population.
But Phaahla said: “Our view is that any relocation has to be supported by scientific proof that the species will thrive wherever they are relocated to, so that more harm is avoided.”