Krugers Rhino Numbers Plummit 1 Feb 2021

Kruger National Park, home to the largest herd of wild rhinos left in the world.

South Africa’s flagship reserve and, to many, the place where the fight against rhino poaching will either be won or lost.

It’s the rhino’s last frontier – 3 549 white and 268 black rhinos left.

In actual fact, less.

Rhinos are back in the spotlight, at last, with justified public outrage at the news that the rhino population in the Kruger National Park is significantly lower than what they had been led to believe.

Unfortunately, not a word about that mentioned here in the Minister’s update on rhino poaching released today, along with the news of another 394 known rhinos that lost their lives last year.

It’s very easy to throw stones, to cast blame, to judge and get emotional. Quite frankly though, it doesn’t help. If anything, the powers that be just come down even harder on the few brave men and woman who carry this all on their shoulders.

Syndicates have tentacles that exploit every chink in the armour and are always a few steps ahead. Our government can have all the strategies in the world, but until they take a zero-tolerance approach to internal corruption inside reserves (which is successfully done in the private reserves and means battling the unions and the CCMA) the syndicates will keep driving our rhinos towards extinction. No action, or slow action, leads to increasing insider involvement, even more pressure on investigators, continues to cost rhinos their lives and puts good rangers’ lives in danger. One big vicious circle.

Government continues to throw millions in taxpayers money towards protective efforts in reserves with rampant insider involvement. They continue to accept millions of rand of public support and yet don’t address the devil in their midst. While honest rangers live in mortal fear of corrupt insiders at their sides,  knowing that the system they work for doesn’t have their back.

There are wins, at great personal cost, made by a few increasingly exhausted people who have taken this fight to heart and soul. Their efforts are not humanly sustainable, especially when there is an increasing level of intimidation, or when they are targeted in their personal capacity with malicious and unsubstantiated allegations because they are too effective and too much of a threat.

To everyone fighting so hard, we see your efforts. We know how hard this is. We believe in everything you are doing. To the decision makers, the leaders, the politicians, whether you don’t see the urgency or you just don’t care. There is blood on your hands. Rhino blood, lots of it, and human blood as well.