Reinstate the Rhino Task Team

With the tragic loss of 4 rhinos in one night at Lalibela Game Reserve last week the Eastern Cape now more than ever needs government to assist in investigating and policing the senseless poaching of our vulnerable rhino population.

Even though it is not government’s direct responsibility for the security of rhinos on private game reserves, it needs to do its part in clamping down on poaching syndicates with such voracity that poaching is not a viable “career option”.

Government’s real failure is its less than adequate stance on this crisis and its nonchalant action towards the syndicate heads, apparently because of their connection to our Chinese and Viëtnamese trade partners.

China will still trade with us even if we deny them access to our rhinos horns.

The removal of the Rhino Task Team at this critical time is tantamount to giving poaching syndicates a green light to go ahead.

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The DA strongly condemns this action and fully supports INDALO’s (The Eastern Cape Private Nature Reserve Association) statement that it is a clear indication that government does not see the rhino crisis as a priority and does not understand the significance of organised crime syndicates and the effect they have on poaching in the province.

The DA also agrees with INDALO in saying that the timing of this announcement casts serious suspicion over political will to stop organised criminals in the Eastern Cape.

It is imperative that the Eastern Cape MEC of Safety and Liaison, as well as the Minister of Police must intervene immediately and restore the Rhino Task Team and ensure that they function at full capacity.

The MEC of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Mcebisi Jonas, should speak up for the rhinos protected by his department and put pressure for the reinstatement of the Rhino Task Team.

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