New developments to fight rhino poaching

Staff at the Kruger National Park are implementing unique methods to fight rhino poaching.

A rhino calf waits to be relocated following the death of its mother. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN.

MPUMALANGA - In the latest development in the fight to save the rhinos, officials at Kruger National Park said they were creating a poaching risk map.

There are currently 10,000 rhino in the park, but 145 have already been poached this year alone.

Experts studying rhino behaviour said they are able to predict where the animals will be in the park at any given time and want to use this prediction to their advantage.

Wild life expert Sam Ferreira is leading the study to develop a rhino poaching risk map and said the project will be very effective in the fight against poaching.

"In the evening on the map you can see the fire risk, I imagine we can generate something similar."

He said by studying the weather and movement of the animals they will be able to predict where the poachers will be.

The project has not yet been launched because it still needs to be finalised.

Meanwhile, game rangers in the park have also signed an agreement with private game farm owners surrounding the park to combat rhino poaching.

Nine owners of private reserves on the southern boundary of the park have formed Game Rangers United, a body that works with the anti-poaching teams.

Head of special projects in the park, General Johan Jooste said the agreement is a breakthrough in their campaign to fight poaching.

"We share each other's information. If we have to go into each other's areas in pursuit of poachers there's a mechanism for command on control and I am undertaking that we only deal with accredited game rangers and anti-poaching qualified."

But Jooste said the same agreement doesn't exist on the eastern and northern boundaries of the trans-frontier park.

He said poachers are exploiting this loophole.

According to Jooste rangers aren't able to track suspected poachers once they pass over into Mozambique through the trans-frontier.

"There are a lot of talks on the go and we're working hard on that so that at least when we get to the border we work with rangers on the other side where the pursuit is continued. Right now it is stopped dead in its tracks because there's an international boarder."