Minister Edna Molewa welcomes youth commitment to the fight against rhino poaching
21 September 2013
As the number of rhinos poached for their horns continued to increase, the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Mrs Edna Molewa, today joined a gathering by mostly children to show support for the efforts being undertaken to address the scourge of poaching in South Africa.
Walking under the slogan Save Our Rhino to mark World Rhino Day, the participants were constantly cognisant of the fact that the number of rhinos poached for their horn increased has increased to 688 since the beginning of the year.
In the past 10 days 25 alleged poachers have been arrested countrywide, 14 of them in Limpopo Province. Among those arrested is one of the most wanted poachers in the Kruger National Park.
The number of arrests is an indication that additional safety and security measures, including the elevation of rhino crimes to the National Joint Operations Centre, and the improvement of skills of rangers, investigators and prosecutors, are successful.
The Rhino Day Street Parade was hosted jointly by the Department of Environmental Affairs, SANParks, the City of Tshwane, SA National Biodiversity Institute, the National Zoological Gardens of SA in Pretoria, the Unitrans-driven Unite Against Poaching, and the Walter Sisulu Environmental Centre in Mamelodi.
The parade was led by the Chief Executive of SANPaks Dr David Mabunda, the MMC for Environmental Management Services in the City of Tshwane, Ms Petunia Mashaba, and the Deputy Director-General for Biodiversity and Conservation in the Department of Environmental Affairs Fundisile Mketeni.
The march signals the sustained commitment of the youth to the future of the country’s environmental security, and integrity.
Following the street parade, representatives of the Children of South Africa, handed a Memorandum of Support from the Youth, to the Government of South Africa to Protect our Rhino to Minister Molewa.
The Memorandum states that the youth of South Africa are touched, worried and concerned about the country’s rhino and the effect poaching will have on their futures.
“The price of Rhino horn is just not worth it, as it will eventually lead to the rhino’s extinction from the world,” the Memorandum stated. “As youth, we should get involved in our future. The more we do together....the more people learn about rhinos and the more field projects will be supported.”
The children called on all youth to utilise social media to spread the anti-poaching message, and called on Government to consider introducing their 6-point plan.
This included increasing national and international awareness, educational and publicity campaigns on the seriousness of rhino horn poaching; the appointment of special force to combat and intimidate poachers and prevent them from entering conservation areas; improved intelligence and greater use of technology in the fight against rhino poaching and increasing funding for anti-poaching initiatives.
Minister Molewa, in thanking the Children of South Africa, particularly the children who participated in the Street Parade, said it was only through their efforts, those of their parents, educators and the community at large, working in together with government, that the problem of rhino poaching can be effectively addressed in South Africa.
Tomorrow, September the 22nd, is World Rhino Day.
The theme of this year’s World Rhino Day is Five Rhino Species Forever.
The international theme is clarion call that we, as the custodians, of the last five remaining species of rhino in the world, ensure their future survival.
The Minister again assured South Africans that the Government will not allow rhino to become extinct on our watch. The Government, working with our partners in the Justice and Security Cluster, SANParks and other private entities are working hard to meet the continuous challenges being presented in dealing with the poaching crisis.
“The spate of rhino poaching has strengthened the Government’s resolve and determination to work tirelessly to address the plague.”
Among the latest developments is the work being done by the Department of Environmental Affairs, on consultation with the National Treasury, to establish the National Rhino Fund to address all interventions directed to rhino poaching.
The establishment of the National Rhino Fund, and the compilation of a database of all NGOs, NPOs and any other organizations and/ or individuals who raise funds to save the rhino are among the recommendations being implemented following the adoption of the Rhino Issue Management report by Cabinet earlier this year.
The National Rhino Fund will result in the consolidation of all funding requirements and ensure that funding is distributed successfully to state- and privately-owned rhino anti-poaching initiatives, including conservation, safety and security, skills development and research.
With regard to the establishment of a national database of all non-profit and non-governmental organisations and individuals involved in fighting rhino poaching, the Department and stakeholders agreed at a workshop in Pretoria last month that everyone involved in efforts to fight rhino poaching needs to register with the Department. A registration campaign will be launched soon.
The National Environmental Management Laws First Amendment Act (NEMLA) aimed at strengthening the regulatory and enforcement provisions to prevent abuse of the hunting permitting system was only recently introduced and is being implemented as we speak.
Another step taken towards finding a solution to the poaching scourge was the authorisation granted to the Department of Environmental Affairs in July by the Cabinet that South Africa prepare and submit a rhino trade proposal for consideration at the 17th Conference of Parties of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 2016.
The decision to table a proposal at the next CITES CoP followed an extensive public consultation process, nationally and internationally. The Minister emphasised that international trade for commercial purposes will only be allowed if approved by the Conference of Parties.
The Minister renewed the Government’s appeal that trade not be viewed in isolation from all the State’s endeavours to save the country’s rhinos.
Through the Department’s work with stakeholders and communities inside and outside South Africa, it has become abundantly clear that no single community or country can work on its own to combat wildlife crime.
Protecting our rhino is our responsibility as a collective.
SANParks Chief Executive, Dr David Mabunda, said it is indeed worrying that South Africa is still losing such a high number of rhinos throughout the country. But, the most encouraging area in this whole saga is the increasing number of successful arrests and the steeper sentences that are being imposed on convicted criminals targeting the second-largest mammal in Africa – the rhinoceros.
The arrests of suspected poachers for 2013 are at 219 for the country and 79 for the Kruger National Park. This in itself is a milestone in the fight against poaching. These numbers illustrate that the coordinated efforts by a number of law enforcement agencies aimed at addressing the scourge of rhino poaching are making good headway.
Dr Mabunda said poaching makes South Africans poorer as it drains resources aimed at conservation, threatens the livelihoods of millions of people and most importantly denies humanity of a spiritual experience.
“Today we are here to raise awareness of the challenge facing our natural heritage, we should not forget the men and women dedicated to face head on their archenemy, the poacher on a daily basis. Our ranger corps are our own thin blue line that stands between the poaching syndicates and the survival of our natural heritage.”
Christa van Schalkwyk, Manager of the JNF Walter Sisulu Environmental Centre in Mamelodi, which initiated the Street Parade to Save Our Rhino, said the programme for 2013 had included an environmental Quiz with the National Zoological Gardens of SA in Pretoria, while a series of drama workshops for Youth Clubs was held during the July school holidays.
Unitrans Volkswagen, the initiators of the Unite against Poaching fund, confirmed its sustained commitment to the fight against rhino poaching.
“It is in the knowledge that a well-trained field ranger is one of the most significant weapons in the war against poaching that we confirm our commitment to ensuring that the field rangers on the ground have the skills and equipment to allow them to continue their fight against Rhino poaching,” said Unite Against Poaching Marketing Systems Administrator, Linda Joyce.
Unitrans Volkswagen, through the Unite against Poaching fund have been able to contribute over R6.6 million to the fight against rhino poaching, within SANParks. Together with the SANParks Honorary Rangers the organisation has pledged to continue to empower the dedicated field rangers in South Africa’s national parks in the protection of rhino – a part of the country’s national heritage.
South Africans are encouraged to report incidents of poaching and tip-offs to the anonymous tip-off lines 0800 205 005, 08600 10111 or Crime-Line on 32211.
Rhino poaching statistics
Rhino poaching arrests statistics
|South Africa - Arrests||2013||2012||2011||2010|
|Eastern Cape (EC)||0||0||2||7|
|North West (NW)||18||32||21||2|
|Free State (FS)||0||6||0||0|
|Western Cape (WC)||0||0||0||2|
|Northern Cape (NC)||0||1||0||0|
To access the Minister’s speech during the Rhino Day parade to mark World Rhino Day , please click on the link below:
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