By Kim Helfrich
In cold statistics the number of rhinos poached a day in South Africa has now reached three with 769 of these Big Five animals killed to date this year.
That equates to 3.027 animals a day and the country’s internationally renowned Kruger National Park remains the preferred hunting ground for rhino poachers. Bordering on both Mozambique and Zimbabwe, the park, increased security and patrol activities notwithstanding, offers poachers fairly easy access and egress with their bounty. So far this year Kruger’s rhino population has been decimated by 489 - well over half the national loss.
Statistics released by the Department of Environmental Affairs this week show all nine of South Africa’s provinces, including mostly urban Gauteng, have now been hit by rhino poachers.
The latest kill figures come ahead of next week’s United States-South Africa: Border Surveillance Technology Co-operation Symposium at the CSIR International Convention Centre.
All eyes will be on retired SA Army general Johan Jooste, now Commanding Officer: Special Projects for SANParks based in Kruger. The title of his keynote address is “Turning the tide – borders, poaching, technology”.
The organisers of the one-day symposium said US and South African representatives from government, the private sector and non-government organisations (NGOs) will speak on subjects ranging from land and air surveillance technologies and network and communications inter-operability.
“Briefings, challenges and solutions to the burgeoning border security and poaching problems afflicting many African nations will be addressed,” said organisers Kallmann Worldwide, supported by the US Commercial Service and US Pavilion International.
US Ambassador to South Africa, Patrick Gaspard, is also carded as a speaker alongside senior representatives (unnamed at the time of publication) from Armscor; the CSIR’s Defence, Peace, Safety and Security section; SA Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Industries Association (AMD); the US Army Research Office and the US Corps of Engineers.