By Kim Helfrich
The combined efforts of rangers, soldiers and police has not brought about a meaningful drop in the number of rhinos killed for their horn this year but hopes are high that this will change following a meeting between South African conservation enforcement agencies and their Mozambican counterparts.
Part of an overall plan to fine-tune anti-poaching operations involves cross border operations to pursue and arrest Mozambicans who kill rhinos in the Kruger National Park, Johannesburg daily The Times reported. Those arrested on suspicion of rhino poaching will be extradited to South Africa to face charges in local courts.
With up to 90% of poachers reportedly from Mozambique, retired SA Army Major General Johan Jooste told the paper: “Law enforcement should not be side-lined by international borders”.
Latest statistics issued by the Department of Environment Affairs show that 334 of the 536 rhinos killed so far this year have been Kruger animals.
The current rate of poaching shows the country is losing 2.5 rhinos a day to the high-powered hunting rifles of poachers. If the carnage continues at the same rate until December 31, the national rhino population could be down by close on 920, well up on last year’s loss figure of 668.
While poaching continues unabated, operations by rangers, soldiers and other law enforcement agencies are improving the arrest success rate. The first seven months of the year saw 147 arrests for poaching and related criminal activities, 120 less than for 2012. More....