As the world celebrates the annual World Rhino Day on September 22nd, South African National Parks (SANParks) is once again calling for assistance in the fight against the scourge of rhino poaching, particularly in the Kruger National Park (KNP).
The observation of World Rhino Day started in 2010 as an opportunity for people all over the world to take a stand against rhino poaching and the illegal trade in rhino horn. SANParks Chief Executive Officer, Fundisile Mketeni, highlighted the World Rhino Day as one of the most significant days in our calendar. He maintains that it is never too late to fight against the illegal poaching of our country’s natural heritage.
Mketeni has called on the law enforcement agencies, communities, neighbouring countries and all other stakeholders to join hands in the fight to stop the pillaging of these pre-historic animals that are an important part of our ecosystem. “Our rangers are doing their best inside the park, but we need to replicate their efforts outside our parks to disrupt criminal activities. The scourge can be defeated if we all pull together,” said Mketeni.
According to Mketeni, the current rhino poaching statistics for the Kruger National Park (KNP) stood at 243 for this year. “Even though there has been a slight decrease in the number of rhinos poached nationally, it is still worrying that we are still losing rhinos. The increasing number of successful arrests and steeper sentences meted out by the courts on suspects convicted of poaching activities recently is encouraging.
“The KNP has arrested 90 suspected poachers this year. This is not only thanks to the increased cooperation from ordinary members of the public, but also from corporate South Africa joining the fight against rhino poaching. “We need to go out there and expose these selfish people who are undermining our country.” He mentioned that most of these criminals involved in wildlife crime live in our neighbourhoods and should be identifiable through their lifestyles.
In conclusion, Mketeni urged all South Africans to mobilise themselves and join in the activities planned countrywide. “This is an opportunity to highlight the efforts being made to fight rhino poaching around the world and to debunk the myths and reduce the demand for rhino horn. The Society cannot stand by and watch helplessly as criminals declare war on our nation. We all need to defend our heritage with everything we have and stand together to stop the killing,” Mketeni concluded.