By Vivien Van De Sandt
Defence Force soldiers are to be deployed in the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park (HiP), in northern KwaZulu-Natal, to join the fight against rhino poaching.
The move is controversial as the military are not meant to operate in civilian matters. Some soldiers are deployed in parks on border areas, as this is interpreted as being border defence. The “training excercise” is to start next week.
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife has identified 16 rhino poaching syndicates in the province.
This comes as the yearly total of rhino poached in South Africa reached an all-time high of 704 by the end of last month. This exceeds the annual record of 668 set in 2012, according to data provided by the Environmental Affairs Department on Tuesday.
On Wednesday morning Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Communications manager, Musa Mntambo, would only confirm that the park was “in negotiations with the SANDF”.
“We are discussing with provincial SANDF,” he said.
“I cannot comment on the details. We are discussing how many personnel, the hours they will work, and where exactly they will be deployed.”
However, plans to accommodate the military personnel seem quite far advanced, as a camp with ablution facilities is being erected in the park for them. More....