25 January 2016
Edna Molewa, Minister of Enivironmental Affairs, presented a progress report on the fight against rhino poaching in South Africa on January, 21 in Pretoria. “The onslaught against our rhino has continued unabated,” said Minister Molewa. “This has necessitated that we step up our efforts, which are among others, the improvement of our strategies. This approach has delivered a number of satisfying results over the past year, particularly with regards to the number of arrests made.”
During 2015 a total of 317 poachers were arrested for rhino poaching related offences. Of this, 202 were arrested in the Kruger National Park (KNP) and 115 in the area adjacent to KNP. This is a marked increase in arrests from 258 in 2014. A total of 125 firearms were seized inside the Park in 2015, and 63 just outside the Park – a total of 188 compared to the 148 of the previous year. “
By end December 2015, a total of 1 175 rhino was poached of 826 were in the KNP. That is 40 less than the previous year total of 1 215. According to the Minister this lower figure indicates that anti poaching interventions are working even though there has been an approximate ten percent increase in the number of poaching activity in the KNP.
Molewa also provided feedback on the rhino horn moratorium judgement handed down by the High Court of South Africa, Gauteng Provincial Division, Pretoria, on November, 26, 2015. The judgement set aside the moratorium on domestic trade in rhino horn. Judge M F Legodi signed the order after hearing the application for the lifting of the moratorium by John Hume and Johan Krüger in the Pretoria High Court from September 21 to 23. John Hume owns a wildlife ranch near Malalane and another breeding farm in North West province.
Subsequently an application for leave to appeal was filed with the Registrar of the High Court on December, 9, 2015. The application suspended the operation and execution of the judgment in terms of section 18 of the Superior Courts Act, 2013 (Act No. 10 of 2013). “Our application for leave to appeal was unfortunately dismissed with costs on the January 20,” said Minister Molewa. “The result being that the moratorium is no longer in place. My legal team is not yet privy to the reason for the decision, but I have decided to apply for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal. My application, once lodged, will result in the suspension of the operation and execution of the court’s decision to review and set aside the moratorium.”
The Minister emphasised that this matter does not have an impact on the international trade in rhino horn for commercial purposes. Commercial international trade in rhino horn is still prohibited in terms of the provisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).