Kruger needs R400m to safeguard rhino
SANParks says it will need an investment of close to R400m to beef up security in the Kruger National Park if it is to make any progress in its war on rhino poachers
Published: 2012/01/16 06:48:23 AM
SANPARKS would need an investment of close to R400m to beef up security in the Kruger National Park if it is to make any progress in its war on rhino poachers, CEO David Mabunda said yesterday.
This would allow SANParks to employ 1600 more rangers at the Kruger National Park and to refurbish 150km of fencing on its eastern boundary, which borders Mozambique.
Addressing the media yesterday with Mr Mabunda, Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said her department was meeting the Department of Public Works today to discuss the budgeted plan to re-erect the Kruger National Park fence where it had been dropped along the Mozambique border. "We would like to do more but it would cost close to R200m for the 150km of fencing," she said.
Ms Molewa said SANParks would also employ an additional 150 rangers, adding to the 500 already employed in the park.
The number of rhinos illegally killed in SA last year reached the staggering tally of 448. In the first two weeks of this year, 20 have been poached.
SA is home to almost 90% of the world’s estimated 22800 rhinos. The animals are under unprecedented attack, linked to increased demand in Asia, particularly Vietnam, Thailand and Laos, thought to be sparked by increased affluence in the East.
Mr Mabunda said curbing rhino poaching was "mission impossible" with the current ratio of 50000ha per ranger. The 10000ha per ranger required "would mean a staff increase of 1600 people at about R200m".
He said SANParks wanted to avoid a situation where the loss rate from rhino poaching in SA — which is currently at 5% — exceeded the 6% birth rate.
Poor and unemployed people on the Mozambican side of the border were candidates to be recruited by poaching syndicates, he said.
Mr Mabunda acknowledged SANParks staff could be involved in poaching and said he did not "preside over an organisation of angels". There were internal systems to detect foul play and staff were properly vetted, he said.
Last year, 232 people were arrested for rhino poaching.
Ms Molewa said the laws could be stricter and penalties harsher. "Poaching has been declared a priority crime and we are preparing a discussion at Cabinet level."firstname.lastname@example.org