By Noelene Barbeau
An expert on rhino poaching has described the scourge as a “new form of organised crime” that involves local and international syndicates, conservation officials and diplomats.
Professor Moses Montesh, from the College of Law at Unisa, said rhino poaching fatality figures for the year so far had already exceeded those for the whole of last year, pointing to the need for improved anti-poaching measures and more manpower.
Legalising the trade in rhino horn might also need to be considered, he said.
A total of 688 rhinos have been slaughtered for their horns in South Africa this year, in comparison with 688 for the whole of last year.
To date, 290 arrests have been made as opposed to 267 last year, said Montesh, who was addressing delegates at the 51st International Association of Women Police training conference in Durban.
“These statistics show the extent of the problem,” said Montesh who researched rhino poaching in Mozambique, Vietnam and in South Africa.
Poverty, greed and the existence of a market for rhino horns were fuelling rhino poaching in Mozambique, he said. Another problem was that “rhino poaching in Mozambique is not a criminal offence but a misdemeanor”.
Poachers from Mozambique travel into the Kruger National Park to kill rhinos for their horns. The park has the highest number of rhino fatalities, currently at 418. Limpopo has 80, the North West Province 69 and KwaZulu-Natal has recorded 65. More....