WWF welcomes reported decline in rhino and elephant poaching
The World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) on Monday welcomed the reported decline in the number of rhinos and elephants lost to poaching in SA.
The department of environment, forestry and fisheries reported that the number of rhinos lost to poaching declined from 769 in 2018 to 594 in 2019.
It also reported a decline in elephant poaching from 71 in 2018 to 31 in 2019.
However, the WWF said the number of rhinos lost to poaching should be considered in relation to the number of live animals remaining.
It said that without this information, it was hard to evaluate the full picture regarding the current status of the country’s rhino populations.
The organisation said it was positive to see rhino losses being recognised as not simply a poaching issue, but also due to serious transnational organised crime syndicates, as well as the reported good co-operation with rhino horn consumer countries such as China, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Japan.
“The integrated response across law enforcement entities - including the stock theft and endangered species unit of SAPS, the Hawks, SANParks, provincial park authorities, environmental management inspectors and customs, as well as the National Prosecuting Authority - are acknowledged as key to the achievement,” said the organisation.
It said rhino remain under threat from organised crime syndicates, as well as a lack of suitable habitat in the long term.
Dr Jo Shaw, senior manager of WWF-SA’s wildlife programme, said law enforcement efforts alone would not address the complex social and economic drivers behind the long-term threats to the rhinos.
“What is required is a commitment to a holistic approach, which considers the attitudes, opportunities and safety of people living around protected areas. The role of corruption, inevitably associated with organised crime syndicates, must also be addressed,” said Shaw.
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