South Africa: Clarity needed on rhino conservation efforts at Kruger National Park
The DA will submit Parliamentary questions to the Minister of Police, Nathi Nhleko, requesting clarity on cross-boarder hot pursuits operations, with respect to rhino poaching, between the Kruger National Park and neighbouring Mozambique.
This follows revelations by the National Police Commissioner, Riah Phiyega, that conservation operations between the two countries have supposedly been underway for some time.
The Commissioner is quoted as saying, “Yes, we have a hot pursuit agreement, meaning that when… somebody crosses the border, we do have an agreement with Mozambique to follow through… [Hot pursuits] are happening… They happen all the time.”
Yet strangely, the Commissioner declined to give details of how many such operations had taken place. Neither is there any indication of their efficacy.
According to reports received by the DA from sources within South African Police Services and the Kruger National Park, to date, no hot pursuit operations have taken place because the necessary agreement between South Africa and Mozambique is yet to be finalised.
There is also concern that in the absence of an extradition treaty, any apprehended suspects will not be able to be brought back to South Africa for prosecution.
The DA will therefore inquire into –
- The nature agreement, if any, between the Mozambique and South Africa allowing for hot pursuit operations; and
- Details into how many such operations have occurred since the since April this year.
Of further concern, the Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa recently confirmed that approximately 500 Kruger National Park rhino will be translocated to private buyers and other areas of safety after her department denied said plans almost three weeks ago.
Questions remain as to whether an open and transparent tender or auction process for the sale of the rhino was followed. It is alleged that despite the department initially claiming no knowledge of the rhino translocation plan, agreements were already signed in November last year.
The DA has already submitted the following Parliamentary questions in this regard –
- How many SANParks rhino have been sold since 2010;
- How much money has been raised through the sale of rhino since 2010 and what were these funds spent on;
- When were tenders for the sale of SANParks rhino publicised and who were the successful bidders;
- Do any Government officials have links to any of the entities who were awarded the tenders;
- How much will it cost the department to relocate rhino to the proposed “secret locations” and how does this compare to the cost of protecting them from poaching?
Since January this year, it is reported that a total of 631 rhino have been killed by poachers with 408 of them in the Kruger National Park. We believe this number to be closer to 700 with acknowledged under reporting taken into consideration.
Government is ultimately responsible for the protection and conservation of our rhino, and they are failing. The DA will continue to probe and investigate the suspicious activity that is preventing a proper response to the war being raged against our natural resources.
Democratic Alliance - Press Release
By Terri Stander
Shadow Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs