With nearly 600 rhinos killed this year alone – almost double the figure in 2010 – law enforcement agencies and conservation groups are stepping up the fight against rhino poaching.
The Hawks, SA’s directorate for priority crime investigation, joined forces with the department of environmental affairs, rangers and SA National Parks to form the anti-poaching task force three years ago as poaching figures began climbing steeply. They focused their work in the Mpumalanga, North West and KwaZulu-Natal regions, but Hawks spokesman Captain Paul Ramoloka says a recent sharp spike in rhino dehorning and slaughtering at the Kruger National Park has put one of Africa’s largest game reserves under the spotlight....
Jason Ball, Southern Africa director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), says the only way to decisively curb elephant and rhino poaching is through a “global shift in attitudes and values”.
“Biologically, elephants and rhinos simply cannot support an economic model of supply and demand. No wildlife can sustain this type of commercial exploitation, let alone a long-living, slow-growing, slow-breeding species.
“Killing of rhino and elephants will only stop when markets for the products are closed,” Ball says.