With the appointment of 57 new Field Rangers, the world renowned Kruger National Park (KNP) has stepped up the crime fighting ability against the brutal poaching of animals.
This according to South African National Parks, Chief Executive, Dr David Mabunda, who said the new recruits, will be adopting a multi-disciplinary approach and will draw on the skills and expertise of various law enforcement agency involved in the fight against poaching of South Africa’s fauna and flora. “We as a conservation agency and the public at large are paying a high price with these senseless killings of our animals, while some leader of a syndicate is winning the minds and hearts of ordinary and poor members of society to be on the frontline of these evil operations.”
Dr Mabunda was speaking at the Pass-Out Parade of 57 new Field Rangers held in Skukuza this morning. He said we want to send a stern warning on these criminals that their days are numbered. “We are on their trail and closing up quickly on them.”
He said the country continues to lose some of its precious animals in the hands of poachers; animals such as rhinos are highly on demand on the poachers radar screen. “Since the beginning of the year the country in general has lost a total of 94 rhinos, In which 38 was lost in KNP, 7 in Gauteng, 9 in Limpopo, 5 in Mpumalanga, 10 in North West, 4 in Eastern Cape and 21 in KwaZulu-Natal.”
However, the loss of animal lives has not been in vain as to date 22 poachers have been arrested by SANParks rangers and are appearing before various courts in the country, said Dr Mabunda. “Our cross-border operations which include patrols with members of the South African Police Services, and our counterparts in Mozambique have yielded huge successes.
The parade was inspected by SANParks top rangers, Dr Mabunda and high ranking officials of the SAPS and SANDF border patrol units. According to Dr Mabunda a total of R5.2 million has been invested in the fight against poachers. “The funds allocated have been used to acquire amongst others motorbikes, bicycles, a bantam aircraft, to be used in patrols and high tech night vigil surveillance equipment…“we want to own the night as well, as these senseless fugitives tend to focus their operations at night.”
He said this is the fight we are planning to win; Mabunda also applauded the Environmental Affairs Minister and her provincial counterparts for their pro-active discussion around a possible establishment of a national unit or strategy that will deal with the scourge of environmental crimes including poaching in national, provincial as well as in private lands.
Dr Mabunda also welcomed the decision by the South African government to return the military to patrol the 450km national border on the eastern boundary of the KNP as the exit of the military three years ago had created even more pressure on the work of the rangers. “Discussions with the military are already at an advance stage and an announcement will be made soon on the reintroduction of their patrols in the borders of KNP.
In conclusion, Dr Mabunda wished all the new recruits well in their work and encouraged them to work with honor as they carry out their tasks in this fight. “We must let the poachers know that we will seek them out, we will find them and they will be dealt with accordingly. This is a war that we plan on winning,” he warned.
Issued by South African National Parks, on behalf of SANParks Chief Executive
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