Rhino poaching has decreased by almost 53% in the first six months of 2020, with 166 animals being killed for their horns across the country since the beginning of the year.
During the first six months of 2019, 316 rhino had been poached in South Africa.
“After a decade of implementing various strategies, and campaigning against ever increasing rhino poaching by local poachers recruited and managed by crime syndicates, efforts are paying off,” said the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Barbara Creecy. “We have been able to arrest the escalation of rhino losses.”
The Minister said with the Covid-19 associated countrywide law enforcement measures to restrict movement the decline in rhino poaching compared to the same period last year is striking.
This reprieve was specifically welcome in the Kruger National Park where during April, no rhino were killed in the Intensive Protection Zone for the first time in almost ten years.
Between the start of the Lockdown on 27 March 2020 until the end of June 2020, 46 rhino were poached across the country. Of these, 14 rhino were poached during April, 13 in May and 19 in June.
In the Kruger National Park, 88 rhino were poached in the first six months of 2020. As the lockdown restrictions have gradually been lifted so the rhino poaching incidents have slowly increased.
Between January and June, 38 suspected rhino poachers have been arrest in the KNP and 23 firearms confiscated, while 57 suspects have been arrested during joint SANParks ECI /SAPS operations outside of the KNP and 18 firearms recovered.
Despite attempts to smuggle rhino horn valued at around R115 million through O R Tambo International Airport in the first two weeks of July 2020, the decrease in rhino poaching can also be attributed to the disruption of the supply chain resulting from the national travel restrictions, including limitations placed on movement across the country.