181 rhino poached so far in 2012

Only a quarter-way through the year, and already 181 rhino have been poached across the country, according to latest stats from the Department of Environmental Affairs.

In KwaZulu-Natal alone, 18 rhino have been poached since the beginning of the year, which is already more than half the total number killed in the province in 2011. Officials in the province say this is largely due to an increase in poaching on private game farms.

Statistics released by the Department of Environmental Affairs this afternoon (19 April 2012) revealed that about a tenth of all rhino killed in the country since the beginning of the year were poached in KZN. Thirty-four were killed in 2011, and 38 in 2010. KZN was one of only four provinces – along with Gauteng, North West and the Northern Cape – to have seen a decline in poaching numbers between 2010 and 2011.

Latest statistics on rhino poaching, provided by the Department of Environmental Affairs. http://www.environment.gov.za

In total, the department said 181 rhino had been killed across the country since the start of the year. This is already about 40 percent of the total 448 rhino killed during 2011. It’s up sharply from figures released just a week ago, which said that 171 rhino had been poached.

The area most affected is the Kruger National Park, where 111 rhino have been poached since the beginning of the year. It is a massive jump from figures provided by the department a month ago. On March 19, the department said 75 rhino had been killed at Kruger National Park, meaning 36 had been killed in just 30 days.

According to Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife rhino security co-ordinator Jabulani Ngubane, his unit was now working with private game farms to try reduce the number of poaching incidents.

“This year we have experienced a sharp increase in rhino killings in the private sector. Of the 18 that have been killed in KZN, nine have been on private farms. Ezemvelo has implemented an anti-rhino poaching strategy, increased our security and tightened up any loopholes we might have had in our operations. This means that the private sector has become a soft target, which is why we have seen them being affected,” he said.

Ngubane said the KZN Rhino Project had been set up to give support to private game farm owners. Equipment, training and anti-poaching strategies were also being given to deal with the problem. And he believes it’s bearing fruit.

“The situation is improving. We saw a sharp spike in the beginning of the year, but it’s quiet at the moment. We’ve gone a few weeks without a rhino going down, which wasn’t the case before. We are starting to see a difference being made.

“When you implement a new strategy, you don’t expect a result immediately. It happens slowly, but are already starting to get results. I am optimistic that our figures will show an improvement from last year,” he said.

The total arrests made for rhino poaching and related activities in 2012. Source: http://www.environment.gov.za

One of the postives, though, is that a large number of people have been arrested for rhino poaching since the start of the year. Most recent of the 111 arrests was that of a man in Mpumalanga. According to the statement issued today, the Matsulu community worked with SA National Parks to affect the arrest.

“The department believes that the public’s active involvement in fighting rhino poaching can lead to more arrests and contribute in addressing this scourge of rhino poaching. This united approach can result in South Africa winning the war against rhino poaching,” the statement said.

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2 thoughts on “181 rhino poached so far in 2012

  1. I know my opinion about this will offend many – especially those who do not consider the preservation of wildlife as important as you and I may…

    The species is in crisis, and the normal (so called civilised) options available to our law enforcers and legal system are insufficient to stop this scourge. I believe the only way to curb the slaughter is a combination of maximum force to deal with the poachers on the ground, maximum penalties for the middlemen in the cities who profit, and cutting the demand source out.

    Not very long ago, the Serengeti was heavily targeted by poachers – the answer (that worked) was a shoot on sight policy for anyone in possession of a firearm outside of permitted and controlled places and times. While it may seem extreme to advocate culling criminal poachers at the bottom end of the reward chain, and while I can sympathise with their predicament and need for an income to provide for families, The survival of a species on the verge of extinction is of more concern.

    The penal system has failed in every area of criminal activity to provide a deterrent to crime in our nation. The current penalties for trafficking in Rhino products do not provide any more (deterrent).

    The biggest problem remains the demand… While our politicians woo far eastern businessmen in some vague hope of benefitting themselves (and maybe gain some investment along the way), they run scared of offending these samw busnessmen who have little regard and respect for human, or any other, life, and whose only interest is finding outlets to dump cheap shoddy goods to reap profit from our citizenry.
    I would see all trade ties with any nation importing rhino products cut off, their diplomats expelled from our shores in disgrace, and their citizens who break our laws treated the same way they treated one of out citizens recently for committing a much less despicable offence. Cut them off from their source and deal with them in the harshest terms.

    In the meantime may I suggest another small article titled “51 Rhinos killed this year – March 2011” http://www.sharksdonteatpeople.blogspot.com/2011/03/51-rhinos-one-poacher-one-bullet.html
    Note the number killed by 7 March 2011, and the number already killed this year. If the scale of this slaughter follows a similar trend and escalates during the winter months as it has befiore, how many rhino will die this year, 600? 700? or more. How long before the species is beyond the point of recovery. Ten years is mentioned. I hope I am wrong, but I feel this is optimistic. Will it not be less, seven years, six or five before the dwindling gentic variety means the species will no longer be viable and efforts to save it are no longer possible.

  2. I have made very similar observations on Care2 about the poaching of Rhinos. Do you want your children to see the last Rhinosaurus stuffed behind glass in a museum, or in a game park? And those who don’t care, well, we don’t care about you either!

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