South African Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Barbara Creecy thanked rangers for protecting wildlife in the country on Saturday in commemoration of the World Ranger Day.
“In the battle to conserve our wildlife and halt poaching, it is our rangers who remain at the forefront, putting their lives on the line daily to conserve our environment and vulnerable species despite the additional risk of contracting COVID-19,” said Creecy.
Creecy said the collaboration between the rangers, police, National Prosecuting Authority and other stakeholders is bearing fruits from January to June 2021, with 40 alleged poachers arrested within the Kruger National Park. A total of 125 people have been arrested for rhino poaching and rhino horn trafficking across the country in the past six months.
Numerous confiscations of rhino horn have also taken place since January, both within the country as well as at OR Tambo International Airport. A total of 14 cases have been finalized since the start of the year with a verdict, representing a 93 percent conviction rate.
“It is clear that the multi-disciplinary, integrated approach to investigating illegal wildlife trade is bearing fruit and that effective collaboration with critical role players remains key to our success,” said Creecy.
She said the government is aware that criminal elements within the society continue to take advantage of the socio-economic pressures and drive demand for illegal wildlife products. She promised that the department will work with a number of communities, NGOs and donors to continue with various community developmental programs.
“The only long-term sustainable solution to wildlife management and conservation is to ensure communities living on the outskirts of our national parks benefit from tourism and other opportunities,” she said.