12 August 2014
Environmental Affairs Minister, Mrs Edna Molewa, leads implementation of integrated strategic management of rhinoceros in South Africa
The rhino population in South Africa was rescued from the brink of extinction in the early 1900s. At the time, the rhino population in the Kruger National Park was locally extinct. Since the start of the relocation of 351 rhino from the Hluhluwe-uMfolozi game reserve in KwaZulu-Natal to the Kruger National Park 50 years ago, the Kruger rhino population had increased to between 8 700 and 12 200 in 2010.
As of 2012, South Africa’s rhino population was estimated at 21 000.
It is clear from regular surveys that rhinos are found in different densities across Kruger National Park. Poaching pressure is also uneven across the Park’s landscape. Some areas are relatively free of recorded poaching incidents while others are hard hit by poachers.
Poaching, natural deaths and the translocation of rhino from the Kruger National Park presently match that of rhino births. This means that the rhino population in the Kruger National Park has stabilised.
Integrated strategic management of rhino
It is in this context that Cabinet has decided that we implement these more vigorous integrated strategic management approach aimed at reducing the threat to rhinos and the biological management of the species. This includes strategic translocation, as we have always done.
The integrated interventions adopted by Cabinet are:
- Compulsory interventions;
- The increase in rhino numbers;
- International and national collaboration and cooperation; and
- Long-term sustainability measures.
Compulsory interventions include pro-active anti-poaching initiatives, the implementation and improvement of actionable intelligence as well as the introduction of responsive legislation and policy amendments to address rhino poaching. Other interventions include continued efforts to increase rhino numbers through, for example, translocation to low risk areas, range- and population expansion.
New interventions include steps to disrupt crime syndicates. These will be implemented by our Security Cluster.
Long-term sustainable solutions, to ensure the future survival of this key species, include the creation of economic alternatives for communities taking into account the government’s sustainable utilisation policy.
International Collaboration and Cooperation
Collaboration between range, transit and consumer States is therefore essential to address this challenge effectively. Several MOUs have already been concluded by the Department of Environmental Affairs. There is, however, a need to accelerate co-operation with key identified countries.
Bolstering Existing Interventions:
Actions associated with this include:
- Strengthening and persisting with pro-active anti-poaching operations;
- Continuous joint operations with key neighbouring countries;
- Improved intelligence gathering and analysis capability; and
- Improving general protection in the other parks and provincial reserves where rhino are present, with the help of relevant technology
The protection of rhinos inside parks with intensive protection zones, and technology interventions, are being complimented with extensive emphasis on national, regional and international collaboration between law enforcement agencies and the criminal justice system. Greater attention will be given to collating proactive intelligence from multi-agencies – nationally and ideally regionally and internationally.
In the Kruger National Park and other parks, these interventions are aimed at reducing the threat to rhinos through numerous strategies. These include the creation of an Intensive Protection Zone (IPZ) in the Kruger National Park. Here, several technologically advanced methods are being explored to help anti-poaching teams to intensively reinforce the protection of rhinos.
In other parts of the Kruger National Park, and in national parks and protected areas nationwide, cooperative and complementary traditional anti-poaching activities help curb poaching. Among the actions taken, has been the introduction of forensic technology, including DNA analysis, in the judicial process to support the successful prosecution of alleged wildlife criminals.
The number of alleged rhino poachers arrested since the beginning of 2014 has increased considerably compared to 2013. During the 2013/14 financial year, 70 cases were finalised against 140 accused nationwide, with a conviction rate of 61%.
The most successful prosecution to date has been that of Mandla Chauke who was handed an effective sentence of 77-years in prison by the Nelspruit Regional Court.
Managing Rhino Populations
An additional action is the translocation of rhino from areas where rhinos are threatened (e.g. eastern boundary of Kruger National Park), as well as areas where environmental conditions and high rhino densities restrict breeding and increase mortalities.
Our previous experience has shown that biological management, which includes translocations, has resulted in the growth of rhino numbers in South Africa. The complimentary approach of strategic relocations from the Kruger National Park and the creation of rhino strongholds will allow the total rhino population size of South Africa to continue to grow.
Translocated rhinos contribute to the creation of alternative strongholds, which are areas where rhinos can be cost-effectively protected while applying conservation husbandry to maximise population growth.
South Africa is considering a range of rhino strongholds inclusive of South African national parks, provincial reserves, communal areas and private reserves. South Africa also recognises international opportunities for establishing rhino strongholds in neighbouring countries in Southern Africa.
This approach allows the offsetting of poaching in the short to medium term, while also expanding rhino range and improving overall population size.
There are several secondary benefits of establishing more rhino strongholds, including:
the expansion of conservation-friendly land uses;
- improved capacity and infrastructure within protected areas, especially where these were hampered through historical constraints on conservation resources; and
- To implement South Africa’s sustainable use policies
Entering into Memoranda of Understanding with range states is key. The MoU with Mozambique recognises the need of strengthening community development on the Mozambican side as a key intervention.
Investigations into long-term sustainability solutions
The long term sustainable solutions are linked to the creation of alternative economic opportunities for communities bordering protected areas; creating incentives to promote / facilitate rhino ownership; and the consolidation of rhino population across different land-uses in South Africa including national, provincial, private and communal land.
We anticipate that challenges will not remain static – thereby necessitating an adaptable rhino management response that changes in response to these challenges.
South Africa remains committed to the sustainable utilisation of its natural resources.
For further information contact:
Cell: +27 (0)83 490 2871
Issued by: Department of Environmental Affairs
27 November 2017Protecting the 'birthplace of rhino'
The birthplace of rhino” – this is the name often given to Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park (HiP) in KwaZulu-Natal where the southern white rhino was saved from the brink of extinction half a century ago.read more
27 July 2017'We can make a difference,' says Vietnamese Youth
The continued senseless killing of African rhino for their horn, is driven by the demand for horn in primary consumer countries in Asia, such as Vietnam and China. More than 90% of horn goes to or thrread more
6 July 2017Lions poisoned for bone trade
[Maputo, 5 July 2017] On 3 July 2017 the tracks of three poachers were detected in the Intensive Protection Zone of Limpopo National Park, Mozambique. These were followed and it became clear that theread more
28 June 2017Dynamic alliance established to bolster rhino anti-poaching efforts
On the western boundary of Kruger National Park (KNP), private and community-owned game reserves - represented as the Greater Kruger Environmental Protection Foundation (GKEPF) - have joined forces wiread more
12 May 2017More than 10 000 Vietnamese businesspeople reached
Quang Ninh, Viet Nam, May 2017—Since June 2015, more than 10 000 businesspeople across 45 Vietnamese cities and provinces have gained the tools and methods to adopt corporate social responsibility (read more
11 April 2017In order to stop the killing, we have to stop the demand.
The demand for rhino horn in Asian countries remains one of the main driving forces behind the escalation in poaching of rhinos in Southern Africa, with more than 80% of illegally trafficked rhino horread more
16 March 2017No more ‘hiding in the dark’ for poachers entering Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park, South Africa – A group of three poachers move silently through the bushveld, hidden from the naked eye by the darkness of night. Armed with a rifle and carrying a grim collectiread more
19 January 2017 Cooking up a storm to encourage legal and sustainable foods for the Lunar New Year holidays, instead of threatened wildlife
Hanoi, Viet Nam — TRAFFIC and the Centre for Women and Development (CWD) held a cooking competition in Hanoi in January where nearly 100 people showed their commitment to wildlife protection.read more
12 January 2017TRAFFIC brings hospitality enterprises together to stop illegal wildlife trade
Hanoi, Viet Nam— In December, nearly 50 representatives from hotel and tourism enterprises were equipped with the tools to adopt corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies that reject the consumread more
29 November 2016 Prescribing the balance of nature to traditional medicine schools
Some of the Traditional Medicine "champions" trained during one of two workshops held by TRAFFIC and the National Centre for Health Communication and Education © TRAFFIC Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam, 2read more