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More than 300 rhino poached in first half of 2019

22 September 2019 - 09:58 By Matthew Savides
More than 300 rhino were poached between January and June 2019, the environmental affairs department said on Sunday.
More than 300 rhino were poached between January and June 2019, the environmental affairs department said on Sunday.
Image: Reuben Goldberg

Three-hundred-and-eighteen rhino were poached in SA in the first half of the year, the environmental affairs department announced on World Rhino Day on Sunday.

This was a decrease from the 386 killed over the same period - January 1 to June 30 - the year before.

Of the 318, 190 were in the Kruger National Park. There were 1,202 incursions and poacher activities recorded in the Kruger in the first six months of 2019, the department said.

In releasing the figures, minister Barbara Creecy said that it was vital that communities that lived around the various parks were brought into the “mainstream of conservation” if the country wanted to deal with poaching.

“We will redouble our efforts to make sure that communities who live on the borders of our parks benefit from conservation and the biodiversity economy so they are not vulnerable to recruitment by syndicated poaching operations,” she said.

Creecy added: “Communities living adjacent to national parks, state and privately-owned conservation areas, as well as private rhino owners, rely on the rhino, as a key member of the Big Five, and most importantly a part of South Africa’s cultural, economic and natural heritage. We reiterate our assertion that communities living with rhinos remain as partners in the protection of this iconic species. We must all say that this scourge of rhino poaching cannot continue under our watch.”

She also welcomed the collaborative efforts in dealing with the scourge of poaching.

In February 2019, the environmental affairs department announced that 769 were poached in 2018, compared to 1,028 in 2017. It was the first time in five years that the annual figure was less than 1,000.

“Not only is rhino poaching once again showing a decline, but our successes in the courts are also noteworthy.

“Although the battle to end poaching is far from over, we are proud to say that our efforts as a government, as private rhino owners, and as concerned citizens, are paying dividends,” said Creecy.