September marks Rhino Month coinciding with World Rhino Day 2015
South Africa has a proud conservation record, having brought the rhino back from near extinction in the 1960s to a healthy estimated 20 000 black and white rhino by the end of 2013. South Africa is home to more than 80% of the world’s rhino population, and 93% of Africa’s rhino.
South Africa’s successful and proud rhino conservation track record may be considered as one of the reasons why South Africa has attracted poachers that operate with military precision in the execution of their raids. As one of the last viable rhino populations in the world, the rhino population in South Africa is vulnerable.
South Africa has been described as the only remaining hope for the world in terms of rhino conservation. It is a reputation that the country, and Government, wishes to maintain. The South African Government recognises that poaching is part of a multi-billion dollar worldwide illicit wildlife trade. Addressing the scourge is not simple. That is why we will continue to strengthen holistic and integrated interventions and explore new innovative options to ensure the long-term survival of the species.
Communities living adjacent to national parks, state and privately-owned conservation areas, as well as private rhino owners, rely on the rhino, as a key member of the Big Five, as a source of income and job creation.
The rhino is an important part of South Africa’s cultural, economic and natural heritage.
Cabinet approved the Integrated Strategic Management of Rhinoceros in South Africa in August 2014.
The key aspects of this program are:
- managing rhino populations
- compulsory interventions (proactive anti-poaching measures)
- international and national collaboration and cooperation
- long-term sustainability measures
Significant progress has been made with regards to the implementation of the interventions.
This has included the publication for public comment of the Biodiversity Management Plan for White Rhinoceros in the Government Gazette in March 2015; successful translocation of rhinoceros from unsafe and high risk areas in the Kruger National Park to safe zone and the Intensive Protection Zone in the Park; and the finalisation of tenders received to purchase an estimated 200 rhino from the Kruger National Park which will be moved to safer areas with the aim of augmenting the rhino population and establishing viable breeding herds outside of the Park.
Compulsory interventions have resulted in an increasing number of arrests of poachers, while joint operations by SANParks, the SAPS and SANDF have been augmented by the use of advanced technology, the donation of forensic trailers for field work, improved and enhanced training, greater coordination with sister departments resulting in more successful convictions as well as the deployment of the Green Scorpions at ORTIA as a first step to the placement of compliance officials at all points of entry and exit to ensure compliance with NEMBA, TOPS Regulations and CITES requirements.
National and international collaboration has included the signing of an MOU in the field of Biodiversity and Conservation with Cambodia, the conclusion of an Implementation Plan to the MOUs concluded with China in the fields of Wetland and Desert Ecosystems and Wildlife Conservation, the finalisation of an Implementation Plan to the MOU signed with Mozambique, the implementation of joint operations and programmes with Mozambique and Vietnam to combat rhino poaching, as well as work with international, regional and African partners through AMCEN, ICCWC, Interpol and the Kasane Wildlife Conference to address transnational wildlife crime.
Long term measures have included the appointment of a Committee of Inquiry to investigate the feasibility, or not, of a legal rhino horn trade ahead of the 17th Conference of Parties to CITES in Johannesburg in 2016. Measures to increase community awareness of rhino poaching and commitment to addressing the scourge, while improving the lives of those living adjacent to rhino and other wildlife conservation areas have also been enhanced.
September marks Rhino Month in the environment sector and it conincides with World Rhino Day, which is commemorated every year on 22 September. World Rhino Day was introduced by WWF-South Africa in 2010 to celebrate all five species of rhino – the black rhino, white rhino, greater one-horned, Sumatran and Javan rhinos.
The aims of focusing attention on the plight of the rhino is to raise public awareness of particularly poaching, anti-poaching operations and successes; the economic and cultural value of rhino as a part of South Africa’s heritage; and responsible citizenry through the reporting of wildlife and rhino crimes to the authorities, and the rewards linked to successful arrests and prosecutions.
The Department of Environmental Affairs hopes that World Rhino Day will enhance local community and South African citizens’ confidence in the work being done by the government to address rhino poaching.
Theme and messages
The public is encouraged to blow the whistle on rhino poaching and any related wildlife crimes. Members of the public, no matter where you are, know someone who is aware of someone who is involved in crime. The public are encouraged to take responsibility for the rhino as a symbol of the crimes being perpetrated against the environment and wildlife in general, and stand up and shout Not on our watch!
By taking hands and working together we, as South Africans, will win the war on rhino poaching.
South Africa's commemoration activities
United Nations’ launch of Award for Anti-Rhino poaching
On Monday, 07 September 2015, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Department of Environmental Affairs will launch the Champions of the Earth Award. The award seeks to distinguish men and women whose actions and leadership have made a positive impact on the environment.
Department of Environmental Affairs and Isimangaliso Wetland Park to host World Rhino Day events at St Lucia, KwaZulu-Natal 2015
The Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms Barbara Thomson, will lead events to mark World Rhino Day at St. Lucia in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and World Heritage Site on 22 September 2015.
World Rhino Day is observed annually on 22 September. South Africa has a proud conservation record, having brought the rhino back from near extinction in the 1960s to a healthy estimated 20 000 black and white rhino by the end of 2013.
Minister Edna Molewa highlights progress in the fight against rhino poaching
On 30 August 2015, ahead of the Rhino month, Minister Edna Molewa provided the highlights of the progress in the fight against rhino poaching. The report back focused on four areasof interventions to manage our rhinos all under international and national co-operation, namely; compulsory interventions, interventions to increase rhino numbers, long-term sustainability interventions and game-changing interventions.
Stand a chance to win awesome prizes with Environmental Affairs by naming our two rhinos before we take them to streets in the upcoming Rhino Day on 22 September 2015. Simply tag @environmentZA , and leave a hashtag #NAMEDEARHINO and the suggested names or leave a comment below the image and you could win.
Competition closes on Monday, 30 September 2015.