(Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa. Courtesy of The Green Times)
Today, poaching is a major threat to wildlife all around the globe. This illegal activity puts wildlife populations at risk and poses challenges to conservation programs, community structures, and national security. SCI Foundation has been dedicated to supporting anti-poaching efforts for over 10 years, primarily through various programs across Africa and our annual African Wildlife Consultative Forum (AWCF). We are proud to continue working with countries across Africa and the world to reinforce valuable partnerships while supporting the acquisition and employment of new anti-poaching technology and strategies.
Bomo Edna Molewa, Minister of Environmental Affairs in South Africa provided the most recent update on the status of anti-poaching efforts just one month ago. This update made it clear that while new technology and tactics are extremely helpful, the international partnerships being established are even more crucial. In collaboration with the South African Departments of Defense, Justice and Constitutional Development, Correctional Services, the Ministry of State Security, and Directorate of Priority Crime Investigation or “Hawks” and the South African Police Service (SAPS) the Department of Environmental Affairs is happy to continue registering successes in the fight against rhino poaching while remaining equally aware that the battle is far from won.
(Photos courtesy of: Letaba Herald (left), and Amit Chandra (right).)
Efforts have been stepped up in provinces that are still vulnerable by using the Intensive Protection Zone approach and utilizing the South African National Defense Force to assist the SAPS. New technology systems have been deployed to assist rangers combat wildlife crime and have resulted in more arrests and less poaching incidents overall. In Kruger National Park alone, arrests have gone from 58 in 2016 to 111 in 2017. It is also worth noting the famous Black Mamba anti-poaching unit, consisting of all women, have expanded their patrol into six additional rhino reserves while promoting participation by women of all ages.
Many new poaching trends that have been difficult to combat in the past have been successfully uncovered and have led to more arrests than ever. Although smuggling operations have been evolving, the Hawks have stepped up their detection activities and are now arresting higher-level syndicate members such as local buyers, couriers, and international exporters. Between April 2017 and December 2017, 16 wildlife traffickers from South-East Asia, South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Kenya were arrested. Two Taiwanese traffickers were also captured in Swaziland and sentenced to 29 years in prison. In the past, the majority of those arrested were local Africans. Today, with new technology, training, and cooperation with neighboring countries and regions, higher-level traffickers from Asia are making up more and more of the arrests.
South Africa also saw a slight decrease in the number of poaching events in 2017 when compared to 2016. Kruger National Park (KNP) saw a 24% decrease with just 504 rhinos poached in 2017 and just 2662 poacher activities. In 2016, KNP saw 662 rhinos poached and 2883 poacher activities. Although the number of poaching activities and rhino kills decreased in KNP, the number of rhinos poached in KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape, Mpumalanga, Free State, and North West increased. Overall, there were 1,028 rhinos poached in South Africa in 2017, this is slightly less than the 1,054 rhinos poached in 2016.
(Photos courtesy of CITES website)
International and regional cooperation has been key to developing community governance mechanisms and management tools that ultimately lead to improved wildlife monitoring. The Department of International Relations and Cooperation, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations, and the Department of Environmental Affairs have begun to engage foreign governments focused on combating transnational crime. So far South Africa has engaged with Myanmar in the first Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) in August and Vietnam at the International Consortium of Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) in October. South Africa is also pleased to announce the latest project under the 6th replenishment of the Global Environmental Facility (GEF 6). This 7-year, $131 million grant program will be implemented under the Global Wildlife Programme coordinated by the World Bank and is expected to leverage an additional $704 million in co-financing. The project is titled, “Strengthening Institutions, Information Management and Monitoring to Reduce the Rate of Illegal Wildlife Trade in South Africa.”
(Photos courtesy of Dyck Advisory Group website)
In the year ahead, South Africa will continue to draw on the achievements made in 2017, learn from any mistakes, and adopt international best practices. SCI Foundation will continue to support anti-poaching efforts worldwide and do our part to facilitate international and regional cooperation. SCIF is interested in supporting a project in Mozambique, the primary trafficking and exporting point from South Africa, the Dyck Advisory Group Conservation Trust. The all African non-profit he created, Dyck Advisory Group, will be training rangers in Mozambique to combat the ever-evolving poaching networks. We will keep you updated as this project progresses.
To read the full update click here: Minister Edna Molewa highlights progress on the implementation of the integrated strategic management of rhinoceros.
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