Rhino: SA reaching out to Thailand
Johannesburg - The government has reached agreements with two countries in Asia, and is targeting a third, as it reaches out to the continent with the highest demand for rhino horns in an attempt to curb poaching.
Environmental affairs deputy director general of of biodiversity and conservation Fundisile Mketeni said on Wednesday a memorandum of understanding between South Africa and both Vietnam and China on rhino poaching had been completed.
"We agreed on the contents. All that we are waiting for is for the minister and her counterparts to sign,"he said.
"We have agreed as officials... It is a ceremonial thing to sign but we are already working together. The next consumer state is Thailand - we have not started any deliberations."
Mketeni was speaking at the first National Rhino Conservation Dialogue in Midrand.
His department announced that a total of 227 rhinos had been killed illegally since the beginning of this year.
Of the rhino killed, 137 were from the Kruger National Park and in Limpopo 31 rhino were killed.
A total of 148 arrests had been made in the same period.
At the briefing, the Hawks warned that if current poaching trends persisted, the end of the year could see 556 rhino killed.
"The number is based on formulae that we work on with the daily rate of rhino that are killed and then we forecast to see what figure we will stand on by the end of the year," Colonel Johann Jooste said in Midrand.
"It might be that we have some significant arrests and it would affect the forecast number... But the figure is just based on the daily rate."