This comes despite a rise in poacher activity inside the Kruger‚ including sightings and incursions with poachers. This year 1‚873 incidents were recorded compared with 1‚702 in 2017.
There was also a drop in rhino poaching in KwaZulu-Natal‚ from 163 last year to 83 this year.
The department said about 400 people had been arrested on various charges‚ including rhino poaching‚ since the start of the year. This includes the arrest of 13 wildlife traffickers - eight South Africans and five Chinese – as they were heading towards China and Vietnam.
Since the start of the year 162 alleged poachers were arrested‚ 83 rhino horns confiscated and 145 weapons seized in the Kruger.
“It is still of concern that our own personnel are being arrested for rhino poaching-related offences. Since January‚ four officials have been arrested by SANParks [SA National Parks] enforcement staff in the Kruger National Park for poaching-related offences. These include members of the SAPS [SA Police Service] and the SANDF [SA National Defence Force]‚” Modise said.
But he said there were still concerns over the delay in the time it took for cases to get to trial‚ saying that traffickers had time to hide or dispose of their proceeds due to these delays.
“A welcome development is that a number of rhino poaching-related cases are now being dealt with by the [National Prosecuting Authority’s] Asset Forfeiture Unit‚” he said.