By Amanda Watson
A grim new record was set this week as the number of rhino hunted illegally reached 919.
This was revealed in a statement by the South African National Parks, following a meeting by the parliamentary portfolio committee on water and environmental affairs at Skukuza in Kruger National Park.
“So far this year, 560 rhino have been poached in the Kruger National Park. And the provincial figures stand at a total of 359,” said the Department of Environmental Affairs.
“In Limpopo alone, 105 rhino have been poached, 82 in North West, 79 in KwaZulu-Natal and 77 in Mpumalanga. The total number of suspected poachers arrested has increased to 316.”
South African Defence Force Lt-Col Sakkie Stuurman told The Citizen at a briefing in the Kruger last week, illegal hunting hotspots included Houtboschrand, Crocodile Bridge, Stoltznek, Vlakte-plaas, and N’wanetsi.
“The rhino poaching epidemic will not be ended in the park, but at the source of demand,” said
Stuurman. “The allocated force levels and intelligence resources are directly proportional to the success of suppressing rhino poaching in the area of operations.”
This week’s Skukuza workshop was attended by around 80 delegates, included 13 members of the portfolio committee, the Department of Environmental Affairs, provincial departments, SanParks, private rhino owners and numerous stakeholders and NGOs.
Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa reiterated that continuing to do more of the same was not working. “The solution to rhino poaching is complex and needs innovative solutions,” Molewa said. More....