Anti-poaching drive in the Kruger bears fruit as incidents are reduced by half
Kruger National Park has reduced the number of rhino poaching incidents by over half.
The 2-million hectare animal park suffered the most poaching incidents in the past decade. However, their heightened technology intelligence, which includes intercepting would-be poachers, has seen the park drop the number of incidents by half in the past six years.
Highlighting the success of anti-poaching drive in the Kruger, SANParks media specialist Ike Phaahla said the number of incidents decreased from five a day to one a day in the park.
Phaahla said the money spent on the campaign was worth it. In the 2018 financial year which started in April, SANParks will spend R240-million on security and anti-poaching measures. This figure went up from R40-million that was spent on security in 2008 when poaching started.
“It is bearing fruit. We’ve reduced the number of animals that are being poached from five a day and today we can proudly say that we’re standing at 1.3 a day,” Phaahla said.
“We are concerned about elephant poaching which happens mostly in the north [of the park] but because we can’t single out any species when it comes to this campaign. We are patrolling generally for any poaching that happens. So the elephants are also receiving as much attention as the rhino.”
The successes of the anti-poaching drive can be attributed to the smooth co-ordination at the Mission Area Joint Operations Centre (MAJOC) at the heart of the Kruger National Park which encompasses the police, military, SANParks department of environmental affairs.
The park is also introducing new technology which includes early warning systems and in-flight tracking services.
“There are measures that are being put in place. I told you about technology but we don’t want to go into details with that which would be an early warning system.
“Once they (poachers) go through, we know exactly where they are; it gives us an indication and we send out our reaction teams there. So in many cases in recent times we’ve arrested people before they could kill an animal and that is the long-term plan.”
As SANParks continues the fight against poaching, Phaahla has called on the public to be aware of the vastness of the park and asked people to bear with them as they work towards ending poaching.
“We have to appreciate the fact that the Kruger National Park in itself is a difficult place from which to operate. It is vast, it’s got different topography, it is 2-million hectares of property and you only have 450 rangers who are preoccupied with looking for tracks, following up on poacher activities so that is why sometimes it takes long time. And it is still largely wild because people are only exposed to about 15% of that 2-million hectare property, so you might find that the poaching occurs mostly in [remote areas] because poachers don’t want to be seen. They don’t want to be caught, so they will never operate next to a busy operation.”