Rhino poaching is still a concern in KZN.
- In 2022, 448 rhinos were killed in South Africa, compared to 451 in 2021, according to the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries.
- The Kruger National Park has recorded a 40% decline in poaching incidents.
- KwaZulu-Natal is the only province that has recorded an increase in rhino killings.
South Africa has recorded a slight decline in rhino poaching incidents last year – with only KwaZulu-Natal recording an increase in the number of rhinos killed compared to the previous year, Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy said.
“In 2022, 124 rhinos were killed in the Kruger National Park. No rhinos were poached in any other national park. The number of rhinos poached in the Kruger National Park represents a 40% decrease compared with those killed for their horns in 2021,” the minister said.
In KwaZulu-Natal, however, 244 rhinos were slaughtered for their horns, compared to 102 in 2021. The majority were killed in provincial parks. Sixteen were killed in privately owned reserves.
Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park was specifically targeted, according to Creecy.
Park authorities have linked this to the size of the park and community relations that still need improvement.
“Firstly, the Hluhluwe iMfolozi is smaller than the Kruger National Park. Secondly, there are 10 communities surrounding it. It’s easier for criminals to study the park and navigate through it. We also need to strengthen our relationship with the local communities so that we can easily identify criminals,” Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife spokesperson Musa Mntambo said.
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Mntambo told News24 that the entity relies on foot patrols, tip-offs from surrounding community members and police stationed inside the park to monitor criminal activity.
So far, he said, their main concern about dehorning is the impact it could have on tourism.
“Some tourists prefer visiting our parks to see rhinos with their full horns still intact,” he said.
At the same time, the forestry, fisheries and environment department said it was in favour of dehorning.
“It’s been tried and tested at the Kruger National Park. We understand that it’s a difficult decision but Ezemvelo KZN must consider whether or not it can afford to risk having all of its rhino population killed or dehorn in a bid to conserve wildlife,” department spokesperson Albi Modise said.