Environment, Forest & Fisheries | April 20, 2020
Rhino poaching has shown significant decrease in most parts of South Africa during the Covid-19 lockdown. Our ranger services and anti-poaching activities continue in all our national parks and provincial reserves.
“This could be attributed to the dedication of the essential staff who are on high alert in the Kruger National Park, all other national parks, as well as provincial and municipal game reserves,” said Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Barbara Creecy.
The low demand for the products and strengthened law enforcement at the ports of entry could also have contributed to the notable decline in number of rhinos and elephant poached in conservation areas. There are indications that there is also a decline in marine poaching.
It is encouraging that rhino poaching has continued to decrease since the start of 2020. This pattern is continuing during the lockdown period, with a marked decrease in poaching reported between 27 March and the end of the Easter Weekend (13 April).
The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries has been in contact with both SANParks and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife in relation to rhino poaching incidents in the Kruger National Park and the provincial parks in KwaZulu-Natal – the two areas which are the hardest hit by poaching incidents.
Incursions into the parks and incidents detected that are related to rhino poaching have remained stable and, in some instances, reduced during the lockdown period. The one area where there has been a slight increase in the number of incursions into the KNP since the lockdown has been in the Marula North region.
These incursions all emanated from Mozambique, where there appears to be a general perception amongst the poaching groups that KNP Rangers were all on “lock down” and not at work. A number of arrests continue to be made across the country as anti-poaching work is recognised as an essential service and teams are fully operational.
“It is because of the devotion of rangers and supporting security personnel that are not only in the field protecting our natural environment, but also performing anti-poaching duties, that we have a continued decline in rhino poaching in our country,” said Minister Creecy.
To date, no law enforcement personnel have been diagnosed for Covid-19 in any of the national parks.