Witness Reporter
2 minute read
3 Aug 2022
06:31

Our Viewpoint | Rhino poaching

Witness Reporter

Almost 260 rhino were poached for their horns in South Africa in the first six months of this year.

KwaZulu-Natal is now bearing the brunt of the decimation of the country’s rhino population.

This, as the modus operandi of the criminals who are slaughtering the rhino is becoming ever more violent, leading many to believe that organised crime is the driving force behind the rhino horn trade.

With tributes being paid to Bushbuckridge wildlife ranger Anton Mzimba, who was gunned down in front of his family on Tuesday last week, news that rhino killings are increasing is worrying.

Mzimba was hailed as a veteran, award-winning ranger whose murder has prompted an outcry at home and abroad.

ALSO READ | Hunt on for Timbavati head ranger Anton Mzimba’s killers

Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Barbara Creecy said this week that almost 260 rhino were poached for their horns in South Africa in the first six months of this year.

She said trends show a move away from the Kruger National Park to private reserves and KZN, where the majority of rhinos have been killed this year.

KwaZulu-Natal has lost 133 rhino, which is over triple the number (33) killed in the first six months of 2021.

“This makes it all the more important for national government to shift its focus to supporting provincial authorities and private reserves in the war on rhino poaching,” said Creecy.

With the voracious appetite from the East for rhino horn, South Africa must redouble its efforts to catch the syndicates, if not at the parks where they commit their atrocious acts of cruelty, but at the borders where they smuggle the rhino horn out to South East Asia.

As field rangers have had to adopt a more militaristic way of protecting our parks, and indeed themselves, they must be provided with the best in terms of weapons and well-trained staff to protect themselves and our wildlife.

Does our wildlife authority in KwaZulu-Natal have the capacity to provide this and keep the syndicates at bay?