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Sun May 24 15:17:46 SAST 2015

159 Rhino poached in South Africa this year

Sapa | 04 April, 2012 14:40
Activists gather as they take part in a protest against Rhinoceros poaching outside the Chinese embassy in Pretoria, March 29, 2012. File photo.
Image by: STRINGER / REUTERS

The number of rhinos poached in South Africa this year stands at the "alarming figure" of 159, Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said on Wednesday.

"The Kruger National Park continues to bear the brunt of these losses, with the rhinos poached in the park having reached a staggering total of 95," she said.

"This is no longer an environmental management problem only, but it has become a matter in which we have involved all law enforcement agencies."

She said 90 people had been arrested for poaching this year.

"The continued arrests of rhino poaching suspects reflects the co-ordinated enforcement efforts across government, aimed at addressing the scourge of rhino poaching."

Molewa said the government was implementing interventions and was also looking at new initiatives that could assist in the fight against rhino poaching.

"It is at this park [Kruger] that the first group of 75 of the 150 new rangers are currently undergoing a six-week, intense paramilitary training course."

The 150 rangers were to be deployed in the Kruger National Park. Molewa said the fence on the eastern boundary of the park would be too expensive and difficult to maintain.

"Instead, we are now looking at a buffer zone between Kruger and the private reserves/farms in Mozambique -- the same as on the north-eastern boundary of Kruger, where there is a Transfrontier Conservation Area arrangement," she said.

"This was discussed with the Mozambican authorities and our respective teams are busy with planning already."

She said the ministry of agriculture and rural development in Vietnam had also been approached about conducting inspections to verify that white rhinoceros trophies exported from South Africa to Vietnam were still in the possession of the hunters.

"We are consulting at a diplomatic level, and the outcome of this process will allow us to refuse all applications for white rhinoceros hunting by foreign hunters whose state of usual residence is Vietnam."

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