Media Release: KNP tightens its anti-poaching operations
The Kruger National Park (KNP) Rangers and the South African National Parks (SANParks) Environmental Crimes Investigations (ECI) units yesterday (27 November 2009) installed high technology invisible tracking devices to some of the Kruger rhinos based at Malelane and Stolznek areas.
This according to Mr William Mabasa, Head of PR & Communications at Kruger National Park, who said this is one of the many park’s strategies that are put in place to intensify anti-poaching efforts after losing 41 rhinos between January and October this year.
According to Mabasa the park started experiencing an increase in poaching activities last year when 36 rhinos were lost in the hands of poachers. “The whole country and all other SADC countries are currently losing a high number of rhinos due to poaching, however, since Kruger has the highest number of rhino population in the region, it turns out to be the number one poachers target, hence the park is stepping up its effort to deal with poaching within its own boundaries.”
He said SANParks is currently investing R5.2 million towards its anti-poaching strategy of which amongst other things fifty-seven new field rangers have been appointed in October and deployed to the areas identified as hot spots.
The latest state of the art night vision equipment has been purchased for night deployment activities “As an emphasis to the seriousness, we want to own the night as well as it occurs that most poaching activities takes place during the night, said Mabasa.”
An additional Bantam aircraft and motorbikes for all Section Rangers were also purchased. The conditions of service for the Field Ranger have been reviewed and they have now been declared six day workers. The old radio communication system for the Rangers is currently being replaced by a more modern one.
“We are extremely delighted with all these efforts that our law enforcement personnel is putting against poaching and we believe that these measures are already bearing fruits as 31 poachers have already been arrested since January 2009 with several firearms and stolen rhino horn confiscated,” said Mabasa.
“It is also worth noting that there has been a marked drop in the poaching along the eastern boundary of the KNP over the past four months. However, Stolznek and Malelane ranger sections are still regarded as poaching hot spots; hence these tracking devices are brought to these areas.
Recently park Rangers arrested eight suspects and recovered four firearms after some poaching activities have occurred in the area. “We are also upgrading the road network system in the area which will allow easy access to problematic areas.”
According to Mabasa as compared to other African countries, Kruger National Park represents one of the successful rhino conservation stories with an estimate of 12 000 white rhino while the number continues to increase.
Laura Mukwevho, Media Relations Practitioner, Kruger National Park. Contact: Tel: (013) 735 4262 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
William Mabasa, HOD: Public Relations and Communication, Kruger National Park. Contact: Tel: (013) 735 4363, cell: 082 807 3919 or email: email@example.com