Wednesday 16 February 2022

Rhino poaching in South Africa decreases but the truth is something different


Barbara Creecy, Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, recently released the latest rhino poaching statistics. The stats claim that poaching in South African National Parks (SANParks) reserves has decreased.  

While the DA has nothing but praise for the efforts of our brave rangers and anti-poaching teams who have worked so hard to stem the poaching, the reality regarding rhino poaching numbers is far bleaker than what is being alleged.

The reality is that rhino numbers in SANParks reserves have decreased by 75% over the past 10 years. The most likely reason that the poaching numbers in SANParks reserves appear to be slightly lower on the raw data is simply because the overall numbers of rhinos are continuing to drop. 

If one compares the population with the incidents of rhino poaching in SANParks reserves, there is an average increase in poaching and not a decrease as alleged. SANParks reported that 247 rhinos out of approximately 3,500 remaining wild rhinos were poached in 2020, which works out to 7% of the wild rhino population. The numbers for the middle of 2021 indicate that 209 wild rhinos were poached out of a population of +-2,800, which is 7.5% of the remaining wild rhino population.

SANParks is still unable to adequately account for the decline in wild rhino numbers from 3,500 to 2,800 in one year. If one subtracts the 247 rhinos poached that year, there are still approximately 400 rhinos missing with no explanation given. These rhinos cannot simply disappear.

It is also concerning that no estimate of rhino numbers is provided for the end of 2021. There are unofficial estimates of fewer than 2,000 rhino in SANParks reserves at present and the DA calls on SANParks to provide the latest estimates as soon as possible to combat the growing concern and uncertainty.

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