As part of the colloquium on the preparations for the CITES COP17 Conference in South Africa, various inputs were made on the successes, challenges and pitfalls in anti-rhino poaching strategies on 13 September 2016.
According to Dr Sam Ferreira, SANParks Large Mammal Ecologist, South Africa is home to 36% of around 5 250 black rhinos and 88.2% of white rhinos in the world, with the bulk of both species living on state properties. Private individuals own 9% of the black and 27.9% of the white rhinos of the world, while communities only own 0.5% of the world black rhinos as custodians. He noted that ownership and responsibility reflect strong inequality originating from the past. Poaching escalated from 2008 onwards with the Kruger National Park (KNP) being the hardest hit. Nationally 1 175 rhinos were poached in 2015, while by the end of August 2016, 702 rhinos have been poached.
With a focus on the rhino population in the KNP and KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and comparing the first 8 months of 2015 and 2016, see the following interesting stats:
- Poached rhinos in the KNP decreased by 18%
- While poacher activities increased (33%), the number of people arrested (46%) and firearms seized (19%) also increased in the KNP
- The fraction of rhinos poached in the KNP also decreased from 6.5% in 2015 to 4.9% in 2016
- Successes in the KNP may divert activities somewhere else and the fraction of the rhino population poached in KZN increased from 2.6% in 2015 to 3.8% in 2016
See infographic below for more on rhino poaching: