ANIMAL Rights Africa has accused the government of routinely releasing unreliable information on wildlife that made it difficult to monitor conservation practices.
Statistics supplied on the country's elephant and rhino populations varied wildly, the NGO said yesterday.
In July last year the Department of Environmental Affairs claimed there were 45 elephants in captivity in South Africa.
"This is about one-third of the real figure," Animal Rights Africa said, pointing out that former minister of environmental affairs, Marthinus van Schalkwyk had consistently stated over a number of years that there were 120 elephants in captivity in the country.
In June the department told Parliament that the Kruger National Park's elephant population totalled 17300.
This was at odds with a study by 60 scientists that put the park's elephant population at 12427 at the end of 2006.
Animal Rights Africa said major anomalies on a much-watched species cast doubt on figures supplied on other animals.
Figures provided in the past on the number of rhino in the country were equally contradictory and could have serious implications for the calculation of hunting quotas, Animal Rights Africa said.
The number of white rhino was alternately put at 7000 and 9000, while SANParks and the government disagreed on the number of rhino poached in 2009.
The national parks authority said in July last year 52 rhino had been poached, but six weeks later the Department of Environmental Affairs put the figure at 84 rhino. - Sapa