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Rhino poaching: Lack of proactive approach a concern

A committee probing the scourge of rhino poaching has found alarming shortcomings at the Kruger National Park.

FILE: More than 1,000 rhinos were poached last year. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

CAPE TOWN - A Parliamentary committee investigating the scourge of rhino poaching in Mpumalanga says it's found alarming shortcomings during an oversight visit to the Kruger National Park.

Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Police has expressed concern over what it's called the lack of a proactive approach in fighting the scourge.

It has today received a report from the South African Police Service (Saps)'s top brass on how these matters will be addressed.

The meeting got off to a tense start when some Members of Parliament (MPs) insisted that other issues be added to the agenda.

The Democratic Alliance's (DA) Dianne Kohler Barnard and Freedom Front Plus (FF+)'s Pieter Groenewald also requested issues around the suspension of Hawks boss Anwa Dramat as well as last week's State of the Nation Address (Sona) chaos be discussed.

But committee chair Francois Beukman shot down the requests and proceeded with the planned agenda, discussing the police service's plans to deal with rhino poaching

National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega, gave an assurance that units tasked with combatting the scourge will be better resourced.

Last week the Environmental Affairs Department said the threat against South Africa's rhino population was nearing a tipping point.

More than 1,000 rhinos were poached last year, almost double the number in 2013 when 668 of the animals were killed.

South Africa lost a record 1,215 rhino to poaching last year.