The Independent Online | December 28, 2019
Nearly 8000 rhinos have been poached in South Africa over the past decade. That’s according to the Stop Rhino Poaching NPO, a local website dedicated to raising awareness and support for the war against rhino poaching.
Rhino poaching is part of a multibillion-dollar worldwide illicit wildlife trade, with rhino horn considered a prized possession in Asian medicine.
For the past few years, government and environment organisations alike have been working tirelessly to curb the poaching crisis, while attempting to preserve and grow existing numbers of the endangered animals.
Stop Rhino Poaching founding director Elise Serfontein said South Africa was home to 74% of Africa’s remaining rhino population. “The estimated number of rhinos in South Africa as related by the African Rhino Specialist Group is 15,625 white rhino and 2,046 black rhino,” Serfontein said.
In 2014, the Cabinet adopted the Integrated Strategic Management of Rhinoceros approach to draw together the work of the Department of Environmental Affairs together with the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster and Agencies.
Since its adoption, there’s been a decrease in poaching incidents from 1,175 in 2015 to 769 in 2018.
“We will need to wait for the official figures from Environment Minister Barbara Creecy to be released, but all indications are that there will have been a further decrease in poaching for 2019,” said Serfontein.
She said the dip in poaching figures has been due to a collective approach in the fight against poaching. “From the ranger on the ground working tirelessly to protect rhinos, to the magistrate or judge that takes a firm stand against poaching with a good sentence Along this chain are reserve staff, security personnel, law enforcement officials, prosecutors and myriad other people that include reputable NGOs and their donors.”
Going into a new decade, Serfontein said there would be continued efforts to further preserve rhinos.
Technology has also seen a rise of video technology security solutions to assist in anti-rhino poaching methods, including drone technology.
From January to December 2018, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) obtained convictions in 78 of the 82 rhino poaching cases.
As of September, 318 rhino had been poached in South Africa.