Rhino poaching in South Africa has dipped but corruption hinders progress

The number of rhinos poached in South Africa in 2017 was lower than 2016’s, according to South African Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa. Last year, 1028 rhinos were killed compared to 1054 in 2016, a decrease of 26 animals (2.5%).

Any fall in the numbers is welcomed, but it’s the fifth year running that over 1000 rhinos were killed.

TRAFFIC, the international wildlife trade monitoring group, states that 5476 rhinos were killed in South Africa over a five year period. This is from an estimated rhino populations at the end of 2010 of 18 796 white and 1916 black rhino in the country. South Africa has about 93% of the world’s white rhino population and 40% of its black rhinos.

Though recorded deaths have dropped for three years in a row, there is still a crisis on hand. Tom Milliken, TRAFFIC’s Rhino Programme Leader, said:

The marginally lower total in 2017 still remains unacceptably high and with close to three rhinos illegally killed in South Africa every single day…the crisis continues

Anti-poaching operations in the world famous Kruger National Park have achieved considerable success. But rhino poaching has soared in KwaZulu-Natal and several other provinces. The Kruger has increased patrols, the size and sophistication of anti-poaching units and worked with the South African army to secure the areas with the largest rhino populations, but smaller parks and reserves do not have the resources to do this.

The biggest danger is that poaching is changing focus by moving from concentration on the Kruger National Park to other provinces and reserves, which lack Kruger’s resources. This is a major threat as it stretches the limited anti-poaching capabilities outside a park like Kruger and demonstrates the flexibility of the poaching networks.

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Source: The Conversation