South Africa has declared war on rhino poaching by promoting it to “national priority” status on its crime list following the illegal killing of over 1000 of the rare animals during this year.
Almost 800 of those shootings took place in the Kruger National Park and, as the country’s authorities sat down to plan counter measures, news filtered in this week of the slaughter of another four animals.
The South African Times reported the SANParks’ anti-poaching leader, Mario Scholtz, as claiming that there were currently 20 rhino-poaching groups operation in the Kruger Park on a daily basis.
The new panel formed to make life difficult for the gangs believes that up to now the gamekeepers have been “misguided” and out of their depth in the war against the sophisticated syndicates they face. It hasn’t helped that the outlaws also have game reserve staff, government officials and rangers on their payrolls.
The Deloitte risk advisory manager, Werner Booysen, described the country’s approach as “outdated, sentimental and emotional”.
He stressed that there was a need to channel the energy in the fight against wildlife trafficking. However Julian Rademeyer , author of Killing for Profit, claimed that poaching was only a priority on paper for many organsiations.
The battle against organised crime in this area was exacerbated by the fact that the criminals were involved in other crimes as well.
He said better intelligence was required to fight the problem and underlined the fact that a greater focus should be placed on the people who created the market for rhino horn.
Environmental crimes are now the third-most committed crime in the world, according to Colonel Johan Jooste, the operational commander of the Hawks endangered species unit
He said poaching of these endangered animals was now “a priority crime.”