A total of 259 rhinos have been poached for their horn in South Africa in the first six months of 2022.
“Recent trends in rhino poaching show a shift away from Kruger Park towards private reserves and KwaZulu-Natal, where most rhinos have been killed this year.
This makes it all the more important that the national government shift its focus to supporting provincial authorities and private reserves in the war against rhino poaching,” said Minister for Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Ms. Barbara Creecy.
The number of rhinos poached between January and June 2022 is 10 more than the 249 poached nationwide in the first six months of 2021.
From January to the end of June 2022, 82 rhinos were poached for their horns in the Kruger National Park. Poaching statistics for 2022 show a loss of 210 rhinos on state property and 49 in private parks.
As indicated, the most affected during this period is KwaZulu-Natal, which recorded a loss of 133 rhinos.
This is more than triple the 33 rhinos killed in the first six months of 2021.
The demand for rhino horn remains an ongoing threat to our rhino populations as crime syndicates continue to operate within our borders.
The number of successful arrests and prosecutions recorded in the last 6 months can be attributed to continued successful collaboration between law enforcement agencies, including SAPS, DPCI and Green Scorpions, customs officials and the National Prosecutor’s Office.
These efforts are supported by private security.
Partnerships between the public and private sectors remain key to combating wildlife trafficking.
In addition to the work being done within the seven Integrated Wildlife Zones, the partnership now includes the financial and transportation sectors, as well as transit and end-user countries in Southeast Asia, notably with the People’s Republic of China, Malaysia and Vietnam.
Between January and June, 69 people were arrested in connection with poaching and trafficking in rhino horn.
Of these, 13 suspected poachers were arrested in the Kruger National Park. As a result of the ongoing work of integrated enforcement teams at OR Tambo International Airport, 4 suspected rhino horn traffickers were arrested between January and June of this year for trying to smuggle 56 pieces of rhino horn out of the country.
In one case, cooperation between authorities in the Falcons, Malaysia and Qatar led to the arrest of another suspected trafficker of rhino horn and his haul of rhino horn parts at Doha airport in Qatar.
This arrest demonstrates the success of cooperation between countries to combat wildlife trafficking internationally.
The Hawks are also working with the US Fish and Wildlife Service on an investigation stemming from the discovery in June of a suspicious package at FedEx that was destined for the US.
The package contained 8 kilograms of rhino horn.
hidden like pieces of wooden art.
Several search and seizure operations were conducted across the country, with the Hawks arresting one suspect and seizing 29 rhino horns during an operation at the storage and packing facility in Bedfordview, where rhino horns are prepared and packaged.
for illegal markets in Southeast Asia. In combined police operations, two suspects were arrested in June when they were pulled over by Highway Patrol in Bedfordview and found to have two new rhino horns.
Two suspects, one of them a former Ezemvelo-KZN Parks ranger, were arrested earlier this month after his vehicle was searched and two new rhino horns were seized.
One of the accused had previously been arrested for possession of rhino horn in the Kruger National Park. An integrated operation to tackle money laundering and corruption related to rhino horn trafficking activities within the Kruger National Park was carried out on 23 April 2022.
Various search and search warrants were authorized and executed in multiple properties in the Park and its surroundings with the aim of effectively dismantling the operations of some of the main objectives.
A multi-dimensional team led by the Hawks was assembled, supported by the Kruger National Park and Inventory Theft and Endangered Species in Skukuza and premises were searched in Limpopo and Mpumalanga during the operation.
Three suspects were arrested during the operation, which included two rangers from the Kruger National Park. The arrests and the success of this operation had a significant impact on rhino poaching activities within the Kruger Park and sent a strong message that corrupt and illegal activities will not be tolerated.
One of the rangers was fired during the departmental hearing on July 21, 2022.
The other ranger’s departmental hearing is ongoing pending the outcome of the court process.
In total, 51 cases have been completed in which 51 people were convicted.
The harshest sentence handed down was 34 years in prison, while two Mpumalanga men were sentenced to 28 years behind bars for killing rhinos and being in possession of illegal firearms and ammunition.
In the Skukuza court, two Mozambican citizens were convicted of poaching a rhinoceros in the Kruger National Park, possession of illegal firearms and ammunition, and being in the country illegally.
They were sentenced to 18 years in prison.
In a separate matter, two Mozambican citizens were found guilty of poaching two rhinos in the Kruger National Park, possession of illegal firearms and ammunition, and sentenced to 19 years in prison.
In addition, three South Africans were convicted of rhino poaching in the Kruger National Park and firearms-related charges, and sentenced to 24 years in prison.
The global watchdog against money laundering and the financing of terrorism, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), completed an assessment in 2019 of the threats facing South Africa and the effort being made to combat these crimes.
During this process, the contribution of wildlife trafficking to the generation of criminal proceeds was found to represent a medium to high risk to the country.
In response to the FATF recommendations, earlier this year the National Prosecutor’s Office obtained its first conviction on separate charges under Section 6 of the Organized Crime Prevention (Money Laundering) Act. In this matter, the individual was accused of laundering the money obtained, among others, from the purchase of rhino horn, through a casino.
Ping Wu was sentenced to 5 years in prison.
The success of this prosecution demonstrates the importance of the government’s integrated approach to combating rhino horn trafficking, with an increased focus on the financial crimes involved.
We look forward to many similar successes in the near future.
To mark World Ranger Day, Minister Creecy last week paid a special tribute to rangers working in conservation areas across the country for their continued commitment to protecting South Africa’s iconic species from poaching.
“Following the murder earlier this week of well-known anti-poaching ranger Anton Mzimba at his home in Timbavati, we are reminded of the threats rangers face on a daily basis from poachers and their crime bosses.
These are men and women who deserve our respect and support as we join together to improve their security,” the Minister said.
In May, Kruger National Park field ranger and dog handler Shando Mathebula was killed by a buffalo while on patrol in the Shangoni Ranger Section.
He has been remembered by his family and colleagues as a dedicated young man who served with discipline and distinction.
In recent years, ranger work has shifted from a general focus on species conservation to a more militant way of operating against well-armed criminal gangs that enter national parks and private and state conservation areas to poach rhinos, elephants and others.
Rangers often spend weeks away from home, living in the jungle in an effort to protect the country’s natural environment from looting.
“Our rangers need all the support we can give them.
They are men and women who, despite many challenges, remain committed to the task at hand despite not knowing what the day will bring,” said the Minister.
**Members of the public can report any suspicious wildlife activity to their Environmental Crimes Hotline which is 0800 205 005 or SAPS number 10111.
Links to the Minister’s audio-visual recordings: Audio: https:// bit.ly/3Js8Fqj(link is external) Video: https://youtu.be/Ifjmh8Fl8zY(link is external)