The annual rhino poaching statistics have been released by the Department of Environmental Affairs. It appears that South Africa has made significant progress in the fight against rhino poaching. This is based on the implementation of the Integrated Strategic Management of Rhinoceros covering the period 1 January to 31 December 2018, reports Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms Nomvula Mokonyane.

What this means for rhino in South Africa

There were 769 recorded incidents in 2018 making it the third consecutive year that South Africa has seen a decline in rhino poaching.

In 2017, a total of 1,028 rhino were killed for their horn.  Therefore, 2018 saw a decrease of 259 rhino killed in comparison. “It is also the first time in five years that the annual figure is under 1000”, Mokonyane states.

Her ministry added: “The decline is not only indicative of the successful implementation of the integrated strategic management of rhinoceros approach countrywide but also a confirmation of the commitment and dedication of the men and women working at the coalface to save the species.”

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Photographed by Ryan Plakonouris

Shamwari’s Head of Security on the stats

Although this is great news, one begs to ask the question; can we become complacent in light of the latest statistics? Shamwari’s Head of Security, Rodney Visser, thinks not:

“We are delighted with the decrease in rhino losses although it was to be expected. However, it doesn’t mean that the threat against rhino has subsided at all. To the contrary, incursions into rhino populated reserves have increased. As a matter of fact, there are just not that many rhinos left to poach.

With the loss of two rhino at Shamwari last year, our Anti-Poaching Unit made an arrest outside the reserve within weeks after the incident. The culprits are still in custody and are set to appear in court in the near future.

Shamwari is a conservation orientated holiday destination that allows guests to exist in harmony with nature. It is also a protected environment due to our conservation efforts and we hold our vision of conserving a vanishing way of life in high regard. With that being said, I and the Anti-Poaching Unit at Shamwari are prepared, ready, and motivated to ensure the protection of the species at Shamwari.”

Shamwari anti-poaching unit

Photographed by Ryan Plakonouris

An in-depth look at the stats

The break down of poaching incidents per province indicates that, in the Eastern Cape alone, poaching incidents increased from 12 in 2017 to 19 in 2018. However, in SANParks, there was a decline from 504 recorded incidents in 2017 to 422 in 2018.

“Combating rhino poaching remains a national priority, and as such, all the relevant government departments will continue their close collaboration to ensure that this iconic species is conserved for generations to come.  Although we are encouraged by the national poaching figures for 2018, it is critical that we continue to implement collaborative initiatives to address the scourge of rhino poaching,” says Minister Mokonyane.

Rhino Poaching Stats

Mokonyane also highlights that a total of 365 alleged rhino poachers and 36 alleged rhino horn traffickers were arrested in South Africa last year. Currently, 318 rhino poaching-related cases are on the court roll involving 645 accused and 897 charges.  275 of these cases are trial-ready.

Her ministry concluded that from January to December 2018, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) obtained convictions in 78 of the 82 cases that went to trial.  This represents a 95.1% conviction rate.

At Shamwari, we are fortunate in having a formidable Anti-Poaching Unit headed by Rodney Visser, our Head of Security. Rodney is an organised crime expert, and this makes Shamwari a force to be reckoned with.

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Photographed by Ryan Plakonouris

*Sourced from third-party site: Department of Environmental Affairs