Another good news story resulting from the Covid-19 lockdown has emerged – South Africa has seen a dramatic drop in rhino poaching over the past six months.
The main reason for the decrease in the slaughter of rhinoceros is thought to be coronavirus travel restrictions.
According to Barbara Creecy, the minister of environment, forestry and fisheries, the number of rhinos killed in the first six months of 2020 was 166, compared to 316 in the first half of 2019.
This has been a result of travel restrictions as well as a ‘decade of implementing various strategies’, according to Ms Creecy.
Inside the Intensive Protection Zone in the Kruger National Park, there was no rhino poaching during the month of April; the first time in 10 years this has happened.
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However, in the greater Kruger National Park area, 88 rhinos were slaughtered in the first six months of this year. And as lockdown restrictions have gradually been eased, more poaching incidents are being reported.
Strong conviction rates against rhino poaching
In the first six months of 2020, nearly 100 poachers were arrested and the National Prosecuting Authority was able to achieve convictions in 15 cases at a rate of 100%. Others are still awaiting trial. In some cases, lengthy sentences of more than 20-years were imposed on poachers.
In July, customs at the OR Tambo airport in Johannesburg, aided by sniffer dogs, confiscated 41 pieces of rhino horn valued at nearly 7 million US dollars.
The horns had been packaged as ‘fine art’ and had been heading for Kuala Lampur.
Much of the rhino horns poached in South Africa go to China and Vietnam, to be used in traditional medicine, or as an aphrodisiac.
The war against rhino poaching is a multi-pronged effort involving numerous government agencies including the receiver of revenue, as well as environmental groups and private entities.
But despite their efforts, rhinoceroses are still being butchered, even if the lockdown has slowed down the murders.
South African authorities have also taken to dehorning rhinos as another measure to prevent poaching.
Image Credit: Steve AllenUK