As South Africa continues to see an onslaught on its rhino population at an alarming rate, South African National Parks (SANParks) has inaugurated the first group of the 150 new Field rangers as announced by the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Ms. Edna Molewa.
Speaking at this function SANParks, Chief Executive Officer, Dr David Mabunda said the new recruits are coming at a critical time when the South African conservation agencies as well as private individuals are paying a high price with the senseless killings of the country’s rhino population.
Mabunda said South Africa continues to suffer an alarming surge in commercial rhino poaching, driven by the insatiable appetite for rhino horn in Asian countries, where rising incomes have made it possible for a growing population to afford illegal rhino horn. The horn is desired because of an unfortunate superstition that attributes healing properties to rhino horn, despite modern scientific evidence to the contrary.
“It is for this reason that we need to denounce the killing of our animals by ensuring that we close up the syndicates who are enticing the poorer members of society to engage in criminal activities, recruiting them to be in the front line of these evil operations. It is therefore our hope that integration of these new recruits, who are members of our communities, with the current cream of the crop in the Ranger corps should signal our seriousness in winning the fight against rhino poaching.”
“We believe that the passing-out of these 49 new recruits will step up the crime fighting ability against the brutal onslaught on our rhinos, as these new recruits will be adopting a multi-disciplinary approach and will draw skills and expertise from various law enforcement agency currently deployed in the fight against poaching.”