KwaZulu-Natal carried the brunt of rhino poaching in 2023, says Creecy

During 2023, 499 rhinos were poached across South Africa, 406 were killed on state properties and 93 on privately owned parks/reserves/farms. This was an increase (of 51) in comparison to 448 rhinos poached in 2022.

“The pressure again has been felt in the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province with Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park facing the brunt of poaching cases losing 307 of the total national poaching loss. This is the highest poaching loss within this province. While KZN recorded 49 arrests and 13 firearms seized, multi-disciplinary teams continue to work tirelessly in an attempt to slow this relentless pressure,” said Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Ms Barbara Creecy.

Kruger National Park (KNP) recorded a 37% decrease from 2022 with a total of 78 poached in 2023. No rhinos were poached in any other national parks.

“As part of the government’s poverty relief program there are a number of fence monitors employed from neighbouring communities that patrol the western boundary fence of the KNP and report fence breakages, illegal tracks and people entering the KNP as well as animals escaping from the KNP,” said Minister Creecy.

The minister also commended the work performed by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation – Hawks – in several regional and transnational engagements to enhance the government’s integrated approach to combat wildlife trafficking. Responsible partnerships between the public and private sectors, and the financial and transporting sectors remains critical in combating international wildlife trafficking. The approach is not exclusive to South Africa but is followed within the region and transnationally. Working with the transit and end user countries in South-East Asia, especially with the People’s Republic of China, Singapore, Qatar, Malaysia and Vietnam.

In relation to rhino prosecutions, verdicts were handed down in 36 cases of which 35 resulted in guilty verdicts and one in a not guilty verdict. The cases resulted in the conviction of 45 accused rhino poachers/rhino horn traffickers with a conviction rate of 97%.

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