Rhino Poaching In South Africa Fell Last Year
Posted on May 7th 2019
There has been some great news coming from South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs with official data suggesting that the number of rhinos killed in the country feel from 1,028 in 2017 to 769 last year. At the turn of the twentieth century, more than a half million rhinos roamed throughout Asia and Africa. Unfortunately, the situation is quite different today, with very few rhinos surviving outside reserves and national parks as a consequence of relentless poaching or habitat destruction that has occurred over many decades.
South Africa has taken strict action
Sumatran rhinos and Asia-Javan rhinos are on the brink of extinction and have been classified as critically endangered. As a result, South Africa has taken strict measures to ensure the species is protected in the country. The loss of rhinos to poaching in the stronghold of Kruger National Park fell from 504 in 2017 to 421 in 2018. There were increased efforts to bring the situation under control with 229 alleged poachers arrested either inside or near Kruger National Park which is 40 more than were arrested in 2017.
WWF says crisis is far from over
Despite the decline in rhino poaching, the number of elephants that were lost to poachers in Kruger rose to 71 in 2018. Whilst the drop in number of rhino killings is positive, WWF says the crisis for the species is far from over and it is very important to think about the number of live rhinos remaining as well as the number lost from poaching. Another concern is that the level of poaching in states that serve as home to rhinos across the region remain high.
Corruption remains a major issue
Whilst there were some major arrests and successful convictions last year the problem of bail being granted frequently to those who are members of criminal syndicates that traffic in rhino horns is a serious problem. It is not just a question of arresting the poachers, the corruption that allows them to operate needs to be targeted and there needs to be more effective international cooperation to investigate these syndicates who operate in Asia in order to deal with the entire criminal supply chain.
Status of the species continues to be a concern
Dr Jo Shaw a rhino researcher for WWF says that whilst it is good news that there were fewer poaching related rhino deaths in South Africa last years and the authorities should receive credit for their hard work and commitment, the over all status of the species continues to be a concern. Dr Shaw says there needs to be greater resolve to address the structural challenges for rhinos across the region. Another WWF spokesperson adds corruption is a major challenge and in order to deal with it, we need to understand what attracts individuals towards wildlife crime.