Media statement from the SAPS: Further boost to combat rhino poaching in South Africa
Pretoria, 12 August 2014
As the SAPS we have been doing a lot of work to prevent and detect environment related crimes, in particular rhino poaching. This is a serious concern for us and noting current situation, I have decided to boost the capacity of police personnel, particularly in crime-scene management, to combat rhino poaching in South Africa.
As we all appreciate, the greatest challenge in policing this criminality in the Kruger National Park is that it is one of the largest game reserves in Africa. It covers an area of 2 million hectors (20 000 square kilometres) covering Limpopo and Mpumalanga in north eastern South Africa thus making it larger than the whole of France and even Israel.
I have therefore directed that a team of detectives trained in Wildlife Crime Investigations, our forensics experts, the SAPS airwing, the flying squad and our dog unit led by Lieutenant General Moonoo to assist our South African National Parks Board colleagues with current investigations.
This additional team will attend to all the outstanding and new crime scenes and continue to do proper crime scene investigation and management. During these past two weeks this multi-disciplinary team visited several scenes where rhinos were killed.
Communities living around our game reserves are also playing a critical role in intelligence gathering and the security forces and game reserves are tirelessly engaging them on informant networks.
Many of you are aware of the rhino poacher who was sentenced to 77 years in prison in the Nelspruit Magistrates Court in one of the heaviest penalties aimed at curbing poaching rhinos for their horns.
Earlier in July a court sentenced two Mozambicans to 16 years in prison for killing a rhino and taking its horn last year in Kruger Park, where many poachers cross from neighboring Mozambique.
Through SARPCCO, an organisation of police chiefs in the region, we have agreements where we cooperate with each other to address cross boarder crimes including rhino poaching.
There are many others one can mention but what is clear is that there is indeed no quick-fix solution to end rhino poaching and this battle is becoming increasingly complex. Poachers are becoming more and more sophisticated in the methods they employ to poach rhinos.
Also, the terrain where these animals fall to their death after they are shot are most times extremely unforgiving and not easily accessible by foot and vehicles and even helicopters which compounds our efforts to detect their actions and locate the poached animals.
Therefore, it is our ultimate objective to establish a long term solution to drastically reduce the incidents of rhino poaching.
Successful prosecutions are indeed highly motivating for our detectives that work long and hard to ensure that justice is done. However, we still need to do much more to track down poachers and bring them to book. We are hopeful that this additional intervention will ensure further successful prosecutions when poachers are arrested and completely destroy.
Lieutenant General: Solomon Makgale
Cell: 082 781 8863