Kruger National Park and Limpopo continue to be hardest hit by rhino poaching, says SANParks
SUE BLAINE | published: 2012/02/14 05:26:08 PM
SOUTH Africa has lost 52 rhinos to poachers so far this year and arrested 30 people in connection with rhino poaching, South African National Parks (SANParks) said on Tuesday.
The country lost 448 rhinos to poaching last year, up 34% from the 333 animals lost in 2010, and there is concern that the country could suffer a species decline by mid-year.
The hardest-hit areas continued to be the Kruger National Park and Limpopo, SANParks said.
“It is worrying that we are still losing such a high number of rhinos throughout the country,” said David Mabunda, CEO of SANParks. “The most encouraging area in this whole saga is the increasing number of arrests and the steeper sentences that are being imposed on convicted criminals.”
Early this month, the Phalaborwa Regional Court sentenced three rhino poachers to 25 years’ imprisonment on various counts. Several non-governmental organisations said these were some of the toughest, if not the toughest, sentences handed down thus far for rhino poaching in South Africa.
SANParks said conservation agencies and the police were seeing increasing co-operation from the public, which helped lead to arrests.
This year, the Kruger National Park has lost 26 rhinos to poachers, and Limpopo 13. Sixty-seven alleged poachers were arrested in the Kruger park in 2010, and 98 in the rest of the country.