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Sat Dec 20 18:29:01 SAST 2014

Power struggle on rhino poaching

Sapa | 26 January, 2012 14:25
A dead rhino and calf killed by poachers. File photo.
Image by: AFP PHOTO/STRINGER

There is a power struggle between national government, provincial departments and some private rhino owners in the fight against poaching, Parliament's environmental affairs committee heard on Thursday.

"We'll propose things but somehow they are not getting through because of this domain issue between national and provinces," the environmental affairs department's deputy director-general Fundisile Mketeni said in a submission to public hearings by the committee.

"In our view... you want a central command. You want to be able to talk to a provincial official at a national level; you tell him what to do."

Committee chairman Johnny de Lange said it was unacceptable to say certain rhino strategies were being blocked by individuals, departments, laws and regulations.

"If the provinces are not doing it properly and if it's a question of a species dying then there may be some instances where the power will be better served at a central level; and the Constitution allows for that," he said.

"I never want to hear the department telling me this again, that you can't do this and you can't do that. We cannot hide behind the technicalities of it.

"You are busy seeing a species die. It's not going to happen under our watch. Simple. It's not going to happen. Government has to man up to this."

De Lange took issue with the fact that the department did not know the number of rhino horns in private stockpiles. He said if the law did not allow for officials to find out these numbers, it was the department's fault for not approaching Parliament to suggest a new law.

A total of 448 rhinos were poached in 2011. In January this year, 28 rhinos had been poached so far.

The department estimated that 398 rhinos would be killed by the end of the year.

Mketeni said the illegal trade of rhino horns was worth an estimated $20 billion annually, and was ranked the third most lucrative criminal trade in the world, behind drugs and human trafficking.

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