The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) report on poaching of wildlife including rhino, elephant, lion and plants, and their progress in the introduction of the wildlife economy.
Poaching – Elephants have been poached in the Kruger National Park (KNP) with no prosecutions. There have 72 seizures of ivory as tusks and pieces between 2015 and 2019. About 154 lions were killed between 2016 and 2020 for traditional and medicinal purpose, while leopards were mostly killed for traditional attire. There had been about 233 convictions for rhino poaching during this period, and there had been a decline in rhino poaching over the last six years. This is seem as a positive sign, indicating that some of the strategies implemented by the Department of the Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) and SANParks had been successful. Succulent plants were an emerging threat for poaching, but convicted plant harvesters were only fined.
Elephant management plan – The elephant management plan initiated in 2013 is active until 2022 at all SANParks.
Rhinos statistics – In the Kruger National Park, the population of white rhinos (3 549) is higher than black rhinos (268). SANParks stressed that investment into rhino security is necessary, especially for female rhinos.
Courts and prosecutions – Specialised courts to deal with wildlife poaching and trafficking were deemed necessary by the Committee to fast track convictions. Formal engagements between the DEFF, SANParks and communities are strongly encouraged by the Committee. Members questioned whether lifestyle audits for staff members were being carried out, and if modern technology was being employed to enhance security searches at SANParks.
Wildlife economy – Members were told that the mandate of the Wildlife Economy was to introduce previously marginalised groups to game farming through donations and loans. This had led to nearly 3 500 animals of different species, with a value of over R20 million, being transferred to emerging game farmers and local communities. Challenges had included a weak governance structure, a lack of technical and management skills, fronting of loan requests for wildlife by individuals, regulatory health restrictions relating to translocation, and biases towards charismatic species such as buffalo, roan and sable.
Read their full report here.