By John Yeld
Inadequate intelligence for both government conservation agencies and private wildlife owners is the “Achilles heel” in their efforts to protect the country’s rhino population. This is according to the report of the Rhino Issue Management (RIM) initiative, a national consultative process headed by former SA National Parks chief executive Mavuso Msimang that took place last year.
Released on Wednesday by Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa, the report coincided with the news that rhino deaths from poaching this year have rocketed to 514 – up by 86 in just over a month.
As previously, most of this poaching took place in the Kruger National Park that has now lost at least 321 rhinos in under seven months– nearly as many as were killed in the whole of South Africa during 2010 (333).
The RIM recommendations were submitted to Molewa in January and to the cabinet in February. In a statement on Wednesday, Molewa’s department said that “feasible” recommendations had been adopted and had also been submitted to provincial environment MECs.
“The final report… has greatly assisted the department in reviewing and updating its (national) rhino response strategy.”
A key recommendation was that South Africa should apply to Cites (Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species) to legalise the trade in rhino horn.
This has been accepted by the cabinet, and Molewa announced earlier this month that an application would be submitted for a once-off sale of stockpiled horns at the Cites COP17 meeting in South Africa in 2016. - Cape Argus