The Times of Tanzania
Eastern Africa News Network

Conservators advise All Rhinos in Africa be moved to Kenya And Tanzania for Safety

Conservators in Africa are advising that all remaining Rhinos on the continent should be translocated to Kenya and Tanzania, in East Africa for the protection of the endangered species.

In series of discussions across multinational media platforms, wildlife officials, rangers and other conservationists express concern over Rhinos’ safety elsewhere following mass killing of the species in South Africa within a short period.

A total of 259 rhinos have been poached for their horns in South Africa within the first six months of 2022.

This is according to official reports from Johannesburg.

“Recent trends in rhino poaching show a move away from the Kruger Park to private reserves and KwaZulu-Natal where the majority of rhinos have been killed this year,” reveals South African Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment, Barbara Creecy

The development comes at the time when Kenya and Tanzania record almost Zero Poaching cases, making them safe zones for wildlife in Africa.

“It is time to give East Africa the sole responsibility of looking after the highly endangered wildlife species,” discussed some of conservationists who prefer anonymity.

It won’t be the first time that such horned mammals get relocated from South to East Africa either.

Rhinos seem safe is Tanzania and Kenya

Meanwhile South Africa is also being advised to shift its focus to supporting provincial authorities and private reserves in the war on rhino poaching.

That is the position of the country’s Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment, Barbara Creecy.

The number of rhino poached between January and June 2022 is 10 more than the 249 poached countrywide in the first six months of 2021.

From January to the end of June 2022, 82 rhinos were poached for their horns in the Kruger National Park.

Statistics for 2022 show a loss of 210 rhinos on state properties and 49 in privately-owned parks. 

As indicated, hardest hit during this period is KwaZulu-Natal which recorded a loss of 133 rhinos, more than three times of the 33 rhinos killed in the first six months of 2021.

Demand for rhino horn remains a constant threat to our rhino populations as crime syndicates continue to operate within the country.

Partnerships between the public and private sector could be key to combating wildlife trafficking. 

South Africa is trying to cooperate with the transit and end user countries in Southeast Asia, especially China, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Between January and June, nearly 70 people were arrested in connection with rhino poaching and rhino horn trafficking. 

As a result of the ongoing work of integrated enforcement teams at OR Tambo International Airport, 4 alleged rhino horn traffickers were arrested between January and June this year for trying to smuggle 56 pieces of rhino horn out of the country. 

In one instance, cooperation between the Hawks, Malaysia and Qatar authorities led to the arrest of another alleged rhino horn trafficker and his haul of rhino horn pieces at Doha Airport in Qatar.

The Hawks are also working with the US Fish and Wildlife service in an investigation arising from the discovery in June of a suspect parcel at FedEx that was destined for the USA.

The parcel contained 8 kilograms of rhino horn pieces concealed as wooden art pieces.

 A number of search and seizure operations took place countrywide, with the Hawks arresting one suspect and confiscating 29 rhino horns during an operation at storage and packing facilities in Bedfordview.

The rhino horns were being prepared and packed for the illegal markets in Southeast Asia.

In combined law enforcement operations two suspects were arrested in June when they were stopped by the Highway Patrol in Bedfordview and found to be in possession of two fresh rhino horns. 

Two suspects, one an ex Ezemvelo-KZN Parks ranger, were arrested earlier this month after their vehicle was searched and two fresh rhino horns were seized. 

One of the accused had previously been arrested for possession of rhino horn in the Kruger National Park.

On 23 April 2022 an integrated operation was conducted to address money laundering and corruption linked to rhino horn trafficking activities within the Kruger National Park.

Various search and seizure warrants were authorised and executed at multiple premises in and around the Park with the aim of effectively dismantling the operations of some of the main targets.

 A multi-dimensional team led by the Hawks, with the support of the Kruger National Park and Stock Theft and Endangered Species in Skukuza was assembled and premises in Limpopo and Mpumalanga were searched during the operation.

Three suspects were arrested during the operation, which included two Kruger National Park field rangers.

The arrests and the success of this operation had a significant impact on the rhino poaching activities within the Kruger Park, and has sent out a strong message that corrupt and illegal activities will not be tolerated.

One of the rangers was dismissed during the departmental hearing on 21 July 2022. The other ranger’s departmental hearing is ongoing pending the outcome of the court process.

In total 51 cases in which 51 people were convicted have been finalised.

The heaviest sentence handed down was 34 years’ imprisonment, while two Mpumalanga men were sentenced to 28 years behind bars for killing rhino and being in possession of illegal firearms and ammunition.

In the Skukuza court, two Mozambican nationals were convicted for poaching a rhino in the Kruger National Park, possession of unlawful firearms and ammunition and being in the country illegally.

They were sentenced to 18 years imprisonment.

In another matter, two Mozambican citizens were convicted of poaching two rhino Kruger National Park, possession of unlawful firearms and ammunition and sentenced to 19 years imprisonment.

In addition, three South Africans were sentenced on charges of rhino poaching in the Kruger National Park and firearm related charges, and sentenced to an effective 24 years in jail.

The global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), had completed an assessment in 2019 of the threats posed to South Africa, and the effort being made to fight these crimes.  

During this process the contribution of wildlife trafficking to the generation of proceeds of crime was found to pose a medium to high risk to the country.

“Following the murder earlier this week of well-known anti-poaching field Ranger, Anton Mzimba, at his home in the Timbavati, we are reminded of the threats that rangers face from poachers and their crime bosses on a daily basis.

These are men and women that deserve our respect and support as we join hands to improve their safety,” said the Minister.

In May, Kruger National Park field ranger and dog handler, Shando Mathebula, was killed by a buffalo while on patrol in the Shangoni Ranger Section.

He has been remembered by his family and colleagues as a young man who was dedicated and who served with discipline and distinction.

In recent years, the work of rangers has changed from a general focus on the conservation of species to a more militant way of operating against well-armed criminal gangs entering national parks and private and state-owned conservation areas to poaching rhino, elephant and other species.  

Rangers often spend weeks away from home, living in the bush in an effort to protect the country’s natural environment from plunder.

“Our rangers need all the support we can provide them.  These are men and women who, despite numerous challenges, remain committed to the task at hand despite not knowing what a day will bring,” said the Minister.

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