SA rhino poaching reportedly decreases

This is despite a dramatic escalation in previous years.

South Africa has recorded a decrease in the number of rhinos poached nationally compared to the same period in 2017, the government has said.

But it was concerned that though these figures have gone down but elephant poaching is on the rise.

It said between January and August 2018, 508 rhinos were poached compared to 691 in the same period last year.

In the Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga, rhino poaching also continued to fall – with 292 poached this year compared to 332 in the same period last year.

The department said since January 2018, about 400 suspects were arrested on a range of charges including rhino poaching, and these included five Chinese nationals and eight South Africans who were arrested by the Hawks.

It said the integration of the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife to the police national operation, information gathering operations and case management system, proved to work in efforts aimed at eliminating the crime.

“These Level 3 and Level 4 traffickers were en route to China, Hong Kong and Vietnam at the time of their arrests,” the environment department said in a statement.

It said more than 60kg of rhino horn was confiscated and linked to poaching crime scenes in KwaZulu-Natal and the Northern Cape.

In the Kruger National Park, 162 alleged poachers were arrested while 145 weapons were seized in poaching-related incidents both inside and outside the KNP since 2018 and 83 rhino horns confiscated in the same period.

There are 530 rhino poaching-related cases currently in court, involving 750 accused and 1738 charges and 300 of them are on trial.

The charges range from rhino poaching, to rhino horn trafficking and illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

“It is still of concern that our own personnel are being arrested for rhino poaching-related offences,” the department said.

(edited by NN)

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