By Sue Blaine
The Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) allegation that Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa is not doing enough to save the rhino from extinction is unfair, said two rhino conservation experts on Friday.
South Africa is home to more than 80% of the global rhino population, and scientists have warned that if poaching increases at the same rate as it did in recent years, the species will be extinct in the wild by mid-century. Between 2009 and 2011 the loss to poaching jumped from 122 to 448, just more than a threefold increase. The rhino could go into decline by 2016.
"Rhino poaching continues to escalate unabated and the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, does not appear to be taking any concrete action to stem the tide. Until 2007 rhino deaths averaged 12 per annum and jumped to 83 in 2008, 668 in 2012 and 635 have already been killed in 2013," said DA water and environmental affairs spokeswoman Marti Wenger.
"Other than a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Mozambique, which has not been signed, Minister Molewa is not doing enough to protect our rhinos," Ms Wenger charged.
International Union for Conservation of Nature’s African Rhino Specialist Group chairman Mike Knight said the DA’s claims were "politicking" and South Africa had done "an immense amount" to combat rhino poaching. It was, however, worrying that the Presidency was so often silent on rhino poaching, he said.
"The DA does not have to worry about international politics (when it makes statements), and I don’t know the political reason why (the signing of the MoU with Mozambique ) is not taking place ," he said. More....