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Media Release: Poachers relentless in bloody pursuit of rhino horn

Date: 28th July 2010

South African National Parks (SANParks) confirmed today (Wednesday, 28 July) that the total figure for rhinos poached in the country since January this year, is 152.

South African National Parks (SANParks) confirmed today (Wednesday, 28 July) that the total figure for rhinos poached in the country since January this year, is 152. This figure encompasses the latest number of rhino poached in provincial parks and private reserves as well.

The Kruger National Park (KNP) alone has lost 1 black rhino and 65 white rhinos to poachers since January. The Provincial Parks suffered a loss of 3 black rhinos and 42 white rhinos while private game owners lost 1 black rhino and 40 white rhinos.

SANParks confirmed that they also add rhino calves that are found dead as a result of their mothers being poached, to the total figure. The reasoning is that when a rhino cow is poached, and she has a calf with her, the chances of survival of the calf are reduced to near zero and if not found by authorities in time, it could die of starvation or become prey to the various predators in the wild. This is considered poaching at a secondary level and contributes to the decline of the species.

The estimated population of white rhinos for the country as a whole at 2009 was 19 409, while the black rhino population figures were at 1 678. While it is evident that the breeding populations, especially of white rhinos are stable, the alarming escalation of poaching has authorities on high alert.

“Perhaps it is no longer appropriate to refer to this spate of illegal killing of rhinos as poaching given the levels of sophistication, violence, precision and the money behind it. We are dealing with unprecedented high levels of organised crime which the Police and all security agencies are helping to defeat,” said Dr David Mabunda, Chief Executive of SANParks. “We have worked hard as a country, to bring this species back from the brink of extinction and we will continue to defend it even if we become the last man standing,” added Dr Mabunda.

Dr Mabunda reiterated his plea to the public to alert the authorities of any suspicious activity noticed in relation to rhino killings. To date 47 suspects comprising of foot-soldiers and high level dealers have been arrested throughout the country.

“Conservation bodies and private owners of rhino reserves alone will not stop this war. We are all responsible for the preservation of our natural heritage and everyone’s help is needed so please stand up and be counted in putting an end to this scourge,” was his plea.

Issued by:
SANParks Corporate Communications

Media Enquiries:
wanda mkutshulwa – Head of Communications, SANParks, tel: (012) 426 5201, cell: 082 908 2692, e-mail: wandam@sanparks.org

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