BY NEO GOBA
The Kruger National Park and Mozambican authorities are collaborating in a bid to clamp down on rhino poaching.
“Almost daily‚ we interact with our Mozambican colleagues on the ground and also at the higher levels. We meet on a regular basis and we have formed alliances so that we continue to develop alliance partnerships with our neighbours both on the west and south‚ private reserves as well as some communities in Mozambique‚” said Ken Maggs‚ San Parks’ head of ranger services.
He was speaking to TimesLIVE at Skukuza during a media tour of the Kruger National Park (KNP).
An estimated 90% of the rhino poached in the KNP are killed by insurgents entering the park through the over 400 kilometre-long border fence with Mozambique.
KNP’s section ranger in Enodile Bridge‚ Neels van Wyk‚ said this collaboration is of importance because poachers come through the border on a daily basis and use different tactics to mislead rangers when they try to track them down.
“If we follow a team and they jump into Mozambique‚ we’ll give these guys a track to follow and if anybody is arrested‚ the Mozambican law will deal with the process. We have about a 450 km fence line and you can imagine there’s open systems and [we] have got concession systems that are basically first areas for people to cross. But‚ yes‚ there’s a daily occurrence of people crossing‚” added Van Wyk.
Mozambique and Vietnam are currently the countries recognised by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species as the world’s worst offenders in illegal trade of rhino horn.
Tiaan Kleynhans of Dyke Advisory Group which looks out for any poachers crossing between Mozambique’s eastern fence line and the KNP‚ said the only challenge they face is a lack of resources to clamp down on more poachers.
“We have a lack of manpower. That’s our biggest problem at this stage. As you can see‚ we only brought three people for this interview simply because we don’t have enough people to withdraw from the field. So you’re looking at a total of 20 rangers to cover an area of forty-thousand hectares.” He added that it’s a huge task for them to police the border fence effectively and that more resources are needed to combat the growing poaching crisis.
According to the Department of Environmental Affairs’ statistics on rhino poaching released in July‚ a total of 359 alleged poachers and traffickers had been arrested nationally in the first six months of the year.. The number of arrests inside the KNP totalled 90 alleged poachers with 112 arrested adjacent to the KNP.
A total of 529 rhinos were poached in the first half of the year‚ compared to 542 in the same period for 2016‚ representing a decrease of 13 rhino nationally.
In the KNP‚ a total of 243 rhino carcases were found between January and the end of June 2017. This is compared to 354 in the same period in 2016. This represented a decrease of 34%.