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Media Release: Anti-poaching fight still on

Date: 22nd January 2010

The Chief Executive Officer of South African National Parks (SANParks), Dr David Mabunda, announced yesterday (21 January 2010) that the fight against poaching is heating up with the recent arrest of more suspected poachers in the Kruger National Park (KNP).

The Chief Executive Officer of South African National Parks (SANParks), Dr David Mabunda, announced yesterday (21 January 2010) that the fight against poaching is heating up with the recent arrest of more suspected poachers in the Kruger National Park (KNP).

He further announced that with these successes have also come the sad news of more rhinos continuing to be poached across the country.

Thus far, 46 arrests have been made since 2008, with 17 having been made in 2008, 29 arrests in 2009 and two arrests in the first two weeks of January 2010. Investigations are continuing, with a number of leads on some more suspects, and the investigating team predicts that more arrests will be made soon.

SANParks has in the last three years (2008-2010) lost 93 rhinos; 36 in 2008, 50 in 2009 and seven (7) in 2010.

The final recorded figure for South Africa for 2009 was 122, with the most losses being in the KNP (50), Gauteng province (7), Limpopo province (16), Mpumalanga province (6), North West province (10), Eastern Cape province (3), Free State province (2) and KwaZulu-Natal province (28).

In the first two weeks of 2010 seven (7) rhinos were lost in North West province and seven (7) in the KNP.

SANParks also wants to extend a heartfelt gratitude to a tourist that cannot be named for her own safety, who assisted SANParks in discovering one of the rhinos which were poached in recent weeks. The tourist, upon seeing a hornless rhino wondering by the tourist road, immediately called the authorities to inform them of this sighting. The poachers are still at large but SANParks has strong leads on the suspects.

“We would like to encourage our guests to continue to be vigilant while driving in the park and report any suspicious incident, movement or behaviour because their presence is vital in the gathering of information and ultimate reduction of this assault on our wildlife,” said Dr Mabunda.

“We are not forgetting upstanding members of our communities who have in the past assisted us in foiling the plans of these would be poachers and even arresting them. We are saying that we cannot finish this task without your invaluable help. We need all the information you can provide on these criminals so that we can put them away for a long time,” he added.

Dr Mabunda also indicated that plans are at an advanced stage to bring in members of the military to patrol the international borders of the KNP as well as to camp out in specific areas of the park.

“South Africans must realise that we are not dealing with your ordinary petty criminal here, these poachers are members of well-resourced syndicates and are also involved in chilling crimes like human trafficking, arms smuggling, prostitution and drug trafficking. They are dangerous criminals. South Africans throughout the country must be on the lookout for these criminals as some of them may be your neighbour in your quiet neighbourhood far from the parks, ” said Dr Mabunda.

Issued by:
SANParks Corporate Communications

Enquiries:
wanda mkutshulwa - Head of Communications, Tel: (012) 426 5201, Cell: 083 908 2692 email: wandam@sanparks.org

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