By Sydney Masinga
Nearly 1 500 rhinos have been killed for their horns in the Kruger National Park in the past five years, according to recent stats.
Addressing delegates during a two-day anti-poaching workshop, which started in the Skukuza on Monday, Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said more than half the total number of rhino poached in South Africa since 2008 were in the Kruger.
"The [Kruger\ continues to bear the brunt of rhino poaching, having lost more than 550 of these iconic animals to unscrupulous poachers during the past 11 months. In the past five years, more than 1 457 rhino have been killed for their horns in South Africa's most well-known state-owned conservation region and wildlife tourist attraction," said Molewa.
The minister said the number of rhino poached in South Africa this year was 891, the highest figure in the history of the country.
She said the total of number of rhino poached in 2012 was 668, while 448 were killed in 2011.
"I am deeply concerned and affected by the magnitude of rhino poaching in South Africa and elsewhere in the world, especially since this iconic species, known as one of the Big Five, has become the focus of international poaching syndicates.
"Despite limited funds, the government has made R75 million available to SANParks to combat rhino poaching until 2016 for the employment and training of additional rangers," the minister said.
Molewa said over the coming days, government will announce more initiatives undertaken by the government to deal decisively with the rhino poaching problem.
"It is, however, important to remind you that the government declared the illegal killing and trade of rhinos and rhino horn a national security threat in 2011," Molewa said.
She added that rhino poaching has since been elevated to the national joint security committee to help advance a national strategy that was implemented in 2010 for an integrated effort to combat rhino poaching. More....