Tuesday 16 February 2021

Recent rhino poaching stats in South Africa are far WORSE than they would appear

To the JOURNALISTS: Please do not keep copying and pasting the rhetoric press releases that the South African government spits out. The internet is filled now with headlines that claim rhino poacing has declined - as if we can all kick back now and celebrate - rhino poaching figures are down because there are not many rhino left!

Recent reports on rhino numbers in South Africa’s Kruger National Park reveal a far larger loss of rhino life than previously thought, dropping by 70% in the last decade. This national park in South Africa is the largest repository of rhino in the world so the implications are grim for the species.
A lot of fingers have been pointed at Kruger staff, some of that is justified but for the vast, vast majority of Kruger’s field staff, these are people up against ridiculous odds. They are underpaid, understaffed, surrounded by dysfunction and corruption from their own as well as surrounding governments who do not prioritize this issue. They are threatened by sociopathic criminals and confronted with their own limitations on a daily basis as they confront carcass after carcass.
They have had to watch their most effective poaching court be closed down in 2019, experts agree due to the influence of corrupt magistrates in cahoots with the very syndicates this court was successfully prosecuting.
Kruger’s most effective rangers have been targeted with smear campaigns and false charges, their families threatened. What kind of message must this send to the field personnel at Kruger? This is a heartbreaking job for most of these men and women and they deserve our support. Most signed up to be conservationists, not soldiers, policeman, lawyers or forensic pathologists. We need to be asking how we can support them, not demonize them.
That said, unless the courts are cleaned up, there is no solution in sight. rhinos will be the ultimate victims.

Credit: Jamie Joseph of Saving the Wild for this article.

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