South Africa (WWF) – Today, the South African Department of Environmental Affairs announced that in 2016 1,054 rhinos were reported killed in the country. This is a decline from 1,215 in 2014 and 1,175 in 2015.
Enhanced enforcement efforts in the Kruger National Park, one of Africa’s biggest wildlife reserves and home to the world’s largest population of white rhino, also resulted in a decline in the number of rhinos killed. The number fell from 826 in 2015 to 662 in 2016 (a 20 per cent reduction) despite an increase in the number of reported incursions in the 19 500km2 park.
Dr Jo Shaw, Rhino Programme Manager for WWF-SA, comments:
“A decade has now passed since the initial upsurge in poaching in South Africa and huge effort has been invested in rhino protection. The toll on those working to address the challenge in the region is also unsustainably high.
“Committed conservationists have been defending wildlife at great personal cost. While military-style interventions may provide wins in the short term, these come with longer-term financial and socio-economic costs on both people living around protected areas and other conservation efforts. Ultimately, a more holistic approach is required in addressing the drivers of wildlife crime.”
However, despite showing some positive progress, rhino populations remain perilously close to the tipping point.
The latest figures also highlight the impacts of poaching sweeping across South Africa, as criminal syndicates shift their focus in response to law enforcement actions. Key populations in KwaZulu-Natal in particular bore the brunt of the poaching, with 161 rhinos killed in the province during 2016 – an increase of 38 per cent from the previous year.
Dr Margaret Kinnaird, Wildlife Practice Leader, at WWF International, comments:
“We cannot win the fight against poaching without addressing the demand for illicit rhino horn. Lack of global action to control transnational wildlife trafficking is failing the people protecting rhinos on the ground. In addition to on-going anti-poaching efforts at country level, we need to see tougher law enforcement and prosecutions of people implicated in the trafficking and use of rhino horn, particularly in consumer countries such as Viet Nam.
“Corruption continues to hamper efforts at all levels. This year will see greater collaborative partnerships between conservation and anti-corruption communities to deepen understanding of corruption risks and mitigation strategies.”
This report prepared by WWF.