SOUTH AFRICA: South Africa has witnessed a significant decline in the poaching of rhinos. According to the reports, a percentage dip of 33 was recorded last year.
On Monday, South Africa’s environmental ministry announced that the major reason for a drop in the poaching figures of these rhinos was the COVID-19 lockdown.
South Africa is home to around 80 percent of the world’s rhinoceroses. The poaching figures had dropped to 594 in 2019. Most of the rhinos were killed in the South Africa’s largest national park, Kruger National Park. This park is a popular tourist location and it is in the border of Mozambique. In 2020, around 245 rhinos were poached in the Kruger National Park.
Around 1,573 poaching activities took place in Kruger in 2020, a 21.9 percent fall on the 2019 official figures. “During the COVID hard lockdown period we had a significant reduction in poacher incursions into the Kruger,” said Environment Minister Barbara Creecy.
She also added that while the lockdown aided in the reduction, security measures were the key. Steps were taken by the government to deal with such offenses and security personnel who remained at their posts also helped combat the poaching.
But just as lockdown restrictions eased in South Africa, poaching activities resumed. Creecy said that the end of December witnessed a significant spike in rhino poaching. However, she also stated that this was the sixth consecutive year that a decline in poaching in the country had been observed.
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Coordinated efforts, especially involving African neighboring governments, including Botswana, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Kenya, Namibia, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe have contributed to the decline. Major arrests in recent years and a conviction rate of 97.8% of poachers that have been prosecuted are among the reasons owing to the broader downward trend in poaching activities.
With the decline of poaching, a decline in the number of rhinos has also been observed. What bothers Cath Dean, head of Save the Rhino International, is the question: Are there now simply too few rhinos for poachers to find?”