Poaching arrests highlight rise in rhino killings

14 June 2017 - 11:33 By TimesLIVE
The horn of white rhinoceros Bruno is seen in his enclosure at Thoiry zoo and wildlife park, about 50 km (30 miles) west of Paris, France, March 7, 2017. Poachers broke into the zoo last night, shot dead four-year-old male white rhino called Vince, and sawed off its horn in what is believed to be the first time in Europe that a rhino in captivity has been attacked and killed.
The horn of white rhinoceros Bruno is seen in his enclosure at Thoiry zoo and wildlife park, about 50 km (30 miles) west of Paris, France, March 7, 2017. Poachers broke into the zoo last night, shot dead four-year-old male white rhino called Vince, and sawed off its horn in what is believed to be the first time in Europe that a rhino in captivity has been attacked and killed.
Image: CHRISTIAN HARTMANN

Fifty people have been arrested in the past two months in anti-poaching operations‚ officials said‚ raising concerns about the spike in rhino killings.

The latest arrests included two people who were nabbed at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg‚ environment minister Edna Molewa revealed on Tuesday.

Along with the arrests‚ 13 rhino horn‚ two elephant tusks and 19 hunting rifles were seized‚ Molewa said. “The arrest of the two individuals who were flying out of South Africa to Hong Kong is further confirmation of the success of the multi-disciplinary law enforcement effort being undertaken to combat rhino poaching and wildlife crime under the umbrella of the Integrated Strategic Management of Rhinoceros‚” Molewa said in a statement.

Ten rhino horn‚ worth R2.8 million‚ were discovered in the suspects’ luggage.

Inkatha Freedom Party MP Narend Singh said on Tuesday that the OR Tambo arrests were “just the tip of the iceberg”.

“This year alone‚ 477 rhinos have fallen to poachers. In KwaZulu-Natal‚ we lost 23 in just 12 days. Tragically‚ our anti-poaching victories in the Kruger National Park have simply relocated the battle‚” Singh told parliament. “With our country still losing 3 rhinos a day‚ we dare not cut budgets and think we are winning. Within a few short years‚ there will be no rhino left unless government acts across the board.”

The rhino death toll in KZN has risen sharply to 119 for this year alone‚ TimesLIVE reported on Tuesday.

Two suspected poachers were arrested on Tuesday in the province’s famous Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park‚ which has been a frequent target of poachers.

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