Witness Reporter
2 minute read
7 Jul 2022
19:00

R60 mln needed to secure Ezemvelo Park, says DA

Witness Reporter

The DA said new statistics indicate that there were 259 illegal entries and poaching incidents across all Ezemvelo facilities between April 2021 and March 2022.

A signage to Ezemvelo KZN’s flagship Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park. Photo: Volunteer & Travel

The DA in KwaZulu-Natal has urged the government to urgently find R60 million to secure the future of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s flagship Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park (HIP).

This comes after the party’s conservation portfolio committee oversight inspection found that almost the entire HIP western boundary fence – spanning 93km – is in extremely poor condition with some 20km completely unfenced. This while a total of 162km of fencing is required to fully secure the park.

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Heinz de Boer, MPL the DA’s spokesperson on the economic development, tourism and environmental affairs (EDTEA), said the dire security situation, which has persisted for years, is unfortunately not limited to HIP.

“While the park remains the hardest hit, there has also been a dramatic knock-on effect at all KZN Ezemvelo facilities in terms of poaching, incursions, and illegal activities,” he said.

He said new statistics indicate that there were 259 illegal entries and poaching incidents across all Ezemvelo facilities between April 2021 and March 2022.

He said there were also 82 incidents of destruction of park property, 78 incidents of arson, 100 illegal harvestings were reported and there were 82 incidents of dog hunting, which remains outlawed.

Importantly, De Boer said fencing is also critical in preventing the ingress of the virulent foot and mouth disease – both in and out of the park – with several cases already detected within HIP.

“Ezemvelo has admitted that up to 60% of fencing of all their protected areas does not meet specification. While HIP needs R40 million for fencing, the entity also needs an estimated R100 million to deal with fencing issues at all its parks in KZN,” said De Boer.

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He said the oversight has however revealed that anti-poaching operations are in full force, with various specialised units now operational day and night.

De Boer commended the Ezemvelo rangers and other law enforcement agencies who are now taking the fight to the poachers.

“These fully armed and equipped units are highly mobile and have visibly improved park security.”

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He said urgent representations must be made to Treasury to secure at least R40 million for ‘smart’ animal-proof electrified fencing.

“Additional operating expenditure must also be obtained in order to employ another cohort of rangers who have already been trained,” De Boer said.

In order to make this happen, De Boer said EDTEA MEC Ravi Pillay must exercise his executive authority. “The future of KZN’s premier state-owned wildlife park depends on it,” he said.