War on Poaching Takes on a New Face (South Africa)


Elize Parker, The Citizen

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Projections show there will be more elephants poached in KNP at the end of 2016 as compared to 2015.

“A new poaching war has started. We now have to fight rhino and elephant poaching with the same resources.”

This was said by chief ranger of the Kruger National Park (KNP), Nicholus Funda, during the Rhino Tears/SANParks Honorary Rangers media tour held in the park last week, Lowvelder reported.

Funda referred to the higher incidence in the number of elephants poached – projections of which show there will be more elephants poached in KNP at the end of 2016 as compared to 2015.

He stressed that this created new challenges as new anti-poaching strategies will have to address both rhino and elephant poaching.

“There are so many decisions to be taken. What do we need? More bodies? More technology? How do you police a boundary that stretches 1 000 kilometres?” he asked.

In 2015, according to Funda, close to eight hundred rhinos were poached as opposed to the 200 killed in 2007.

“What we seem to be doing in the southern part of the park is having a real effect. In the north there are fewer rhinos and that is most probably why elephants are a target. A poacher is a poacher and these may even be the same ones. We have 12 000 elephants in the park. Some would say why worry, but we value every one of those animals,” said Funda.

Funda recommended that an integrated approach be followed to implement new and established policies.

“Poachers change tactics all the time. As a country we cannot afford to not take action to reduce the drivers of poaching. We need to disrupt organised crime outside, focus on the areas with high rhino densities and to mobilise resources to address the ever-changing poaching,” Funda advised.

Integrating the human effort with technology as well as with the dog unit should be part of this strategy.

“Twenty years ago we thought we can fix this problem on our own, but now we know we need the dogs,” he said.

For Funda the air wing plays an important role. “The pilots are angels. They never complain.”

One of the shortcomings that he identified in the strategy against poaching is that no strong alliances have been formed.

“We need the political will to join hands with countries around us like Mozambique and Zimbabwe.”