South Africa’s commitment to ensure the protection of its black and white rhino populations is clear from the partnerships that have been created over the years, and the resulting collaboration, to conserve the species, says the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Ms Barbara Creecy.
As the world joins hands to mark World Rhino Day, South Africa acknowledges that despite the pressures of rhino poaching, loss of habitat and vulnerability to climate change effects, the country remains the world’s most important and potentially influential rhino range state.
The High Level Panel report has noted that the proportion of rhino on private land has grown from about 30% in 2012 to about 60% at present, complemented by anti-poaching successes.
The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment has recognized the significant progress made on security, biological management and responsive legislation with some critical milestones remaining outstanding, most notably on community empowerment, demand management and Cabinet approval of the National Strategy to Combat Wildlife trafficking. We are therefore, entrusted with a huge responsibility which requires all hands-on deck.
In terms of the country’s overall rhino conservation plan, the private sector is playing an increasing role in South Africa, and the rest of Africa. At present, the private sector is conserving about 60% of South Africa’s national herd. Therefore, government takes building partnerships and relationships of utmost importance in the conservation of this iconic species.
The Department in cooperation with the provincial conservation authorities, SANParks, private rhino owners and the SAPS, has been focusing on a more proactive and integrated approach that builds on existing initiatives and blurs the distinction made between national, provincial, and private parks whilst increasing situational awareness and sharing of information. Joint investigative teams are working on focused investigations with the support of the Environmental Enforcement Fusion Center (EEFC), ensuring consolidation of information nationally and the ability to provide analysis support, not only at a tactical level but also to investigating teams. The aim is to strengthen our capability, not only at a tactical level to prevent and combat poaching, but also our ability to disrupt the activities along the value chain with a focus on integrated, intelligence-led investigations, inclusive of the financial aspects.
Over the last year conservation and anti-poaching efforts have intensified countrywide as a joint effort is made by the collaborative initiatives of state-owned conservation areas, government and private landowners to reduce the poaching of rhino in South Africa. More targeted deployment of resources is being implemented by the roll out of the CMORE situational awareness platform into the integrated wildlife zones. Through this single technology platform all role players are able to collaborate, making use of real-time insights and analytical capability, linking, for example, camera traps and ranger patrols while integrating a range of other systems.
Information collected and communication flows through the Environmental Enforcement Fusion Center (EEFC) continues to support the teams at both a tactical level and strategic level in both the private and public sector. Our analytical capabilities have also improved, resulting in the increased capacity to identify those involved in rhino poaching and trafficking and improved and expanded investigations by multi-disciplinary teams.
From a biological management point of view, the department in partnership with the Rhino Management Group and all relevant stakeholders are in the process of revising the Biodiversity Management Plans (BMPs) for black and white rhinos respectively.
An additional important measure of recent success in the management of the rhino meta-population has been the successful translocation of 27 rhino from South Africa to the Zinave national park in Mozambique.
This landmark and pioneering rewilding initiative is the result of a partnership between Mozambique’s National Administration for Conservation Areas (ANAC), Peace Parks Foundation and Exxaro Resources, in collaboration with the Governments of South Africa and Mozambique. Mozambique and South Africa.
Working to a two- to three-year timeline, the project is already well on its way to relocating more than 40 rhinos to Mozambique in a series of highly co-ordinated and carefully managed rewilding operations. The first 20 white rhino and seven black rhino introduced to Zinave earlier this year, are thriving.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of South African Government.