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By Marizka Coetzer

Journalist


Kruger National Park: 82 rhinos killed in first half of 2022

If the trend continues, the year will end up with a kill rate equal to 2021.


The war against rhino poaching is far from over despite the recent successful conviction of two former rangers for poaching-related crimes.

Kruger National Park (KNP) spokesperson Isaac Phaahla said the South African National Parks (SANParks) welcomed the sentencing of two field rangers.

Courts working well

Acting Managing Executive of KNP Dr Danny Govender said they were happy with the sentence as it demonstrated the criminal courts were working well.

“This has been a long road and our colleagues should be aware of our zero tolerance to corruption,” he warned.

DPP Mpumalanga National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) regional spokesperson Monica Nyuswa said the Skukuza Regional Court convicted and sentenced two former Skukuza rangers, Hendrick Experience Silinda (31) and Archieve Musa Mlambo (38), to fourteen years imprisonment for poaching-related-offences committed in Kruger National Park.

“On 26 February 2019, the pair were on duty when the regional rangers received information that poachers were going to enter Kruger National Park, with the assistance of the Skukuza rangers. They followed the information and went to the camp where the two officials were deployed and started searching. They found Silinda and his co-accused Mlambo, in possession of a hunting rifle, seven live ammunitions, a silencer, and three hunting knives,” she said.

ALSO READ: Three poachers caught after they killed four Kruger rhinos

“The court ordered some of the sentences to run concurrently, the effective sentence being seven years imprisonment each,” she said.

Figures

The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE) has disclosed that in the first six months of this year, 82 rhinos were killed in the Kruger National Park, Don Pinnock writing for Daily Maverick reported recently.

Pinnock writes the Kruger, “the world’s greatest refuge for rhinos, is losing them to poaching faster than they’re being born. The park’s last rhino may already be alive. It’s time to declare an emergency”.

“If the trend continues, the year will end up with a kill rate equal to 2021. The truth is that unless Kruger does something fast, rhinos could go extinct in the park within four years,” Pinnock said.

“That’s far shorter than the lifespan of most rhinos in Kruger. Since 2009 – just 13 years – rhino numbers have dropped from 11,420 to 2,458 and this year they will continue to drop. During that time, the number of rhinos poached was double the existing population.”

Outraged South African Citizens Against Rhino Poaching’s (Oscap) Kim Da Ribeira said they want more poachers caught and prosecuted.

“Often these cases are too long and drawn out. The delays should not be happening,” she said.

Da Ribeira said it was difficult to say if we were losing the war against poaching as far as rhinos were concerned.

Poaching on the rise

The chairperson of the African Pangolin Working Group, Professor Ray Jansen said poaching was on the rise again.

Jansen said he followed the case of the rangers involved with poaching-related offences and welcomed the court’s discussion and sentencing.

“We have had 34 pangolin cases this year alone,” he said.

Jansen said the cases of pangolin rescues increased from 30 last year as lockdown restrictions eased the cases increased.

Global concern

Criminologist Dr Witness Maluleka said despite the reported isolated imprisonments for poaching-related offences, the conventional methods have failed to impede the atrocious carnage of Rhinos.

“This is not only a South African concern but for many countries globally. The poachers in question were familiar with the surroundings and operations and took full advantage of that, they utilised costly, sophisticated methods and high-powered weapons to commit the crime in question,” he said.

Maluleka said the sentences will not act as a deterrent because they were too lenient.

“It is about time for this crime to be prioritised by the South African Criminal Justice Systems.”

ALSO READ: Poaching, horn trade declines but rhinos still in danger

– marizkac@citizen.co.za

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