04. Juli 2012
Media Release: DEA clarifies its efforts to thwart rhino poaching
4 July 2012 - The Department of Environmental Affairs would like to quash allegations by animal rights activists that criticised efforts to address on-going rhino poaching, urging them to be part of the solution instead of playing to the gallery.
South Africa has to date lost a total of 262 rhinos to illegal killings since the beginning of this year and a total of 173 individuals have been arrested in connection with rhino poaching.
Targeted provinces include Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West and KwaZulu-Natal which collectively account for 100 poached rhinos. South Africa will continue all its efforts locally and internationally to address the ongoing scourge.
Delivering the Department of Environmental Affairs’ Budget Vote Speech, Minister Molewa informed Parliament of her plan to engage stakeholders with a view to reaching national consensus on proposals relating to international trade in CITES listed species. This includes discussions with major role-players on whether or not to approach the international community with a proposal to trade in rhino horn. The final recommendations from the stakeholder engagement process are expected in September. To give effect to her intention, the Department has appointed a Rhino Issue Manager to coordinate stakeholders' inputs through dialogues. The first workshop had taken place in Midrand on 30 May 2012 and it drew a diverse range of stakeholders consisting of conservation authorities, scientists, non-governmental organizations and private game farmers, amongst others, who contributed constructive comments for the way forward.
Although we acknowledge the need to intensify our efforts, the DEA is humbled by the sixty-first (61st) meeting of Standing Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) which commended our efforts as a country in curbing rhino poaching and the scourge of illegal trade in rhino horn. The CITES Standing Committee noted that rhino poaching and illegal trade in rhino horns is a global phenomenon which is also occurring in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Mozambique, Nepal and Zimbabwe. South Africa's experience and intervention measures in fighting the illegal trade were well received and other member states affected by the same problem were encouraged to follow suit. CITES further appealed to alleged consumer states to further improve controls and enforcement relating to the illegal trade in rhino horns.
There are other interventions being implemented in pursuit of resolving the rhino poaching problem. They include the ongoing bilateral with consumer countries such as Peoples Republic of China and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. In the African continent, the Minister is holding ongoing bilateral discussions with Mozambique and have since made a pledge to tighten its security and elevate some offences to receive more severe penalties.
South Africans are urged to report incidents of rhino poaching or any tip-offs that could lead to arrests and prevention of illegal killings to 0800 205 005.
Kindly find the link on the latest update on rhino poaching statistics: http://www.environment.gov.za/?q=content/update-rhino-poaching-statistics-03-july-2012
The Department Of Environmental Affairs - 3 July 2012
Albi Modise on 083 490 2871