Media Release: War on rhino poaching still on

The South African National Parks (SANParks) said in a statement today (Thursday, 1 July 2010) that rhino poaching throughout the country continues to escalate at an unprecedented rate since the beginning of the year.

To date South Africa has lost a further 32 rhinos, bringing the overall number of lost rhinos this year to 124. The SA National Parks have lost 55 rhinos, while the provinces have lost 38 rhinos collectively and the private sector has also collectively lost 31 rhinos. Of the rhinos lost, 5 were black rhino (Diceros bicornis bicornis / Diceros bicornis minor) and 119 white rhino (Ceratotherium simum simum).

The rhinos lost through poaching throughout the country constitute approximately 0,6% of the estimated white rhino population of 19,409 and approximately 0,3% of the 1,752 estimated black rhino population.

The Chief Executive of SANParks, Dr David Mabunda, said that the country is distressed by this continued escalation in rhino poaching but what is equally worrying is the escalating uninformed wild claims of the imminent extinction of the rhino populations. Whereas the poaching is unfortunately at unprecedented and unacceptable levels it is still below 1% of the existing populations and well below the annual growth rates of both white and black rhino which currently are set at between 6% - 11,5% and 3% - 6,5% respectively.

The joint operations involving the SA Police Service, SANParks and environmental crime prevention teams from provincial conservation authorities have so far made 42 arrests (22 of them in the Kruger National Park) this year. On Tuesday, 29 June 2010, a 29-year-old Vietnamese national, Xuan Hoang, was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment by a Kempton Park Magistrate’s court for possession of seven rhino horns after he was apprehended trying to smuggle his cargo through OR Tambo International.

Dr Mabunda repeated the call for all citizens to be vigilant and report to the police any suspicious activity especially for low-flying Robinson R44 helicopters with concealed registration numbers which are widely used by criminals in rhino poaching.

Issued by:
SANParks Corporate Communications

Media enquiries:
For previous media statements on this matter go to www.sanparks.org

wanda mkutshulwa – Head of Communications, SANParks, tel: (012) 426 5201 cell: 082 908 2692, email: wandam@sanparks.org
Reynold “Rey” Thakhuli – GM: Media & Stakeholder Relations, SANParks, tel: (012) 426 5203, cell: 073 373 4999, email: reyt@sanparks.org