War on rhino poaching to be stepped up

The Minister of Environmental Affairs says 1,215 rhino were poached last year.

FILE: Translocations of rhino populations are among the many initiatives planned for this year. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa has conceded her department is not yet winning the war on rhino poaching but says efforts to protect the animals are being stepped up.

The minister earlier held a briefing in Pretoria on several initiatives being launched this year to tackle the scourge.

Molewa said 1,215 rhino were poached last year.

"We have to ensure that we continue to work together in stepping up all the measures."

Molewa said translocations of rhino populations are among the many initiatives planned for this year.

"Fifty-six Rhino have already been moved out of poaching hotspots and translocated from certain areas in the Kruger National Park to what we call an intensive protection zone."

The minister said they're in talks with Denel and the CSIR to deploy high technology to help track poachers.

She also said cooperation between South Africa and Mozambique to better secure the border in the Kruger National Park against rhino poachers has significantly improved over the past year.

Molewa said South African rangers and their Mozambican counterparts have engaged in joint planning and training sessions.

She said local border officials will also receive additional training.

The minister said while poaching activities have increased, so has the arrest of poachers.