Rhino Poaching 2017/2018/2019

Information & discussion on the Rhino Poaching Pandemic
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Re: Rhino Poaching 2017/2018/2019

Post by Klipspringer » Wed Jul 31, 2019 1:31 pm

https://www.environment.gov.za/mediarel ... k_july2019

Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries reports back on rhino poaching in first six months of 2019
31 July 2019

The Integrated Strategic Management of Rhinoceros continues to deliver successes, with a considerable number of arrests linked to rhino poaching and smuggling being recorded in the first six months of 2019. This media report covers the period 1 January to 31 June 2019.

The Integrated approach was adopted by Cabinet in 2014 and is implemented through collaboration between the Departments of Environmental Affairs, Justice and Correctional Services, Defence, State Security, and the SA Police Service, alongside institutions such as SANParks, SARS and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

Compulsory Interventions

1. Protection Zones

Some of our parks have implemented Intensive Protection Zones (IPZ) for their key rhino populations with the support of the Peace Parks Foundation (PPF) project funding. These IPZ’s have fully operational Tactical Operations Centres with sensor technology that gives immediate notification to reaction teams which are further connected to other law enforcement agencies.

The next phase of implementing the zoning approach under the Rhino Conservation Lab will focus on demarcated Wildlife Zones with the aim of strengthening the intensive protection of key national rhino herd strongholds through coordination and collaboration, blurring the distinction made between national, provincial and private parks.

2. Arrests, investigations, and prosecutions

2.1 Arrests

From January to June 2019, 122 alleged poachers were arrested within the Kruger National Park. At a national level, 253 arrests have been effected in the first six months of this year in respect of both rhino poaching and rhino horn trafficking. A total of 61 firearms have been recovered during anti-poaching operations in the KNP in this period as well.

2.2 Investigations and Prosecutions


With the more effective analysis of significant volumes of information at the disposal of law enforcement authorities, integrated and co-ordinated investigations are providing much clearer indications of the numerous and complex syndicates operating within South Africa. This has also enabled us to uncover increased levels of corruption which continues to seriously undermine the work being undertaken to counter the poaching. Concerted, and sustained efforts are being made by law enforcement to disrupt the syndicates, inclusive of the corrupt officials who are an integral part of these structures.

High-level rhino horn trafficking cases from 1 January to June 2019:

During an integrated operation on the 9 January 2019 at ORTIA Cargo terminal, several cargo companies were approached by a team comprising members of the Police, the Hawks, customs and excise and the Department of Environmental Affairs’ Environmental Management Inspectorate (Green Scorpions). The team was supported by K9 sniffer dogs to detect products. Following the positive reaction of one of the detector dogs to a shipment destined for Dubai, 116kg of rhino horn pieces were discovered hidden under laminated wood.

In March 2019 two Chinese nationals, aged 32 and 35, and a South African man were arrested in Gauteng for alleged rhino horn trafficking. The three were arrested on 7 March 2019 in Randburg. The team seized five rhino horns, 14 pieces of abalone, three sea horses, two sea cucumbers, vehicles, weighing and processing equipment allegedly used in smuggling operations.

On 2 April a man was arrested in Boksburg during a rhino horn trafficking operation after being found in possession of two rhino horns with a total weight of 6.8kg.

On 13 April, two men were arrested by the Hawks near Hartbeespoort in North West for possession of 181 rhino horns, transporting the horns without a permit and for possession of an undisclosed amount of money. The men – Petrus Steyn, 61, and Clive Melville, 57, have been released on bail with strict bail conditions and are scheduled to appear in the Brits Magistrate’s Court on 12 July 2019.

On 17 April, a 55-year-old Chinese woman was arrested in Bedfordview by the Hawks for the illegal possession of two rhino horns, while members of the Middelburg Flying Squad arrested a father and son on 20 April after they were found in possession of two fresh rhino horn. The police had stopped the vehicle on the N4 near Belfast in Mpumalanga. The pair, from Mozambique, was traveling towards Gauteng after crossing into South Africa at the Lebombo border post on 19 April. The DPCI has taken over the investigation and is working with their Mozambican counterparts on this case.

The successes in these six months are a further indication that all partners remain committed to the fight against wildlife trafficking within South Africa and beyond the country’s borders.

Of the nine people arrested, three Chinese nationals, four South Africans and two Mozambican nationals were level four and five rhino horn traffickers. These are the top two levels in the Rhino crime syndicate pyramid.

Some of the high-profile cases that remain on the court roll include:
State v Groenewald and 8 others (Pretoria High Court) Trial date: 1 – 12 February 2021
State v Ras and 9 others (Pretoria High Court) Motion application: 29 November 2019.
State v Gwala and others (Mtubatuba Regional Court) Trial date: 14-16 August 2019.
State v Nyalungu and 9 others (Nelspruit Regional Court). Provisional date for trial: 5 September 2019.
State v Landela (Skukuza Regional Court) Trial date: 17 July 2019.
State v Petrus Sydney Mabuza, Nozwelo Mahumane, Moshe Thobela, and Romez Khoza. Trial date in High Court, Mbombela: 27 July 2020 – 14 August 2020.
State v Petrus Sydney Mabuza & Jospeh Nyalunga. Trial date in High Court, Mbombela: 25 May 2020 – 19 June 2020.
State v Mandla Mashele and Kelvin Malapane (Daveyton Magistrates Court) Trial date: 13 August 2019
State v William Tumishin Mokgati, Hlengani Samual Hlungwan and Joao Mazive (Kimberley Magistrates Court). Trial date: 23-24 July 2019.
The Department reiterates that the lifting of the moratorium on the domestic trade in rhino horn does not mean that rhino horn in private possession can be sold, possessed or transported without the necessary permits. It is a serious concern that some of the rhino horn which was sold in terms of permits issued by the department as part of the legal domestic trade has been linked to illegal activities. The system that is in place for the marking and identification (through DNA analysis and other means) enables us to quickly identify these horns and the Hawks are working closely with the Green Scorpions in relation to these investigations. Further measures have also been implemented to further tighten the compliance monitoring and permitting processes and a number of permits have been denied and/or cancelled.

No-one is allowed to trade rhino horn (including selling, donating, or in any way acquiring or disposing of rhino horn) without a permit issued by the Department of Environmental Affairs as well as relevant possession/transport permits issued by the provincial conservation departments. Commercial international trade in rhino horn is and remains prohibited in terms of the CITES provisions. Private rhino horn owners should take care not to be drawn into the illicit activities or markets.


On 26 March, the case against Funokwakhe Khoza, 51, Ayanda Buthelezi, 40, and Mduduzi Xulu, 51, was finalised in the Durban Regional Court. The men, who had been arrested in August 2009 by the KZN Hawks’ Wildlife Anti-Poaching unit and Umfolozi game rangers at a roadblock, were sentenced to lengthy prison terms after being convicted for the possession of rhino horn, a .303 rifle and two axes. Khoza was sentenced to 14 year’s direct imprisonment, while Buthelezi and Xulu were each sentenced to 10 years imprisonment wholly suspended for five years.

On 3 April, three members of the Ndlovu Gang were sentenced by the Makanda High Court in the Eastern Cape to 25 years imprisonment each for 13 rhino poaching incidents in which 22 rhino were killed in the province over a period of five years.

Jabulani Ndlovu, 40, Forget Ndlovu, 37, and Sikhumbuzo Ndlovu, 38, were arrested at the Makana Resort outside Makanda (Grahamstown) in June 2016. The men were charged with 55 counts related to 13 rhino poaching incidents near Makanda, Jansenville, Graaff-Reinet and Cradock, as well as theft, contravening environmental laws and illegal possession of firearms and ammunition. The men were found in possession of a rhino horn, tranquiliser, a dart gun, a saw and a knife when they were arrested in 2016. They have also been linked to poaching in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga. The sentences were ordered to run concurrently, meaning that the men would serve an effective 25 years in prison each.

The sentences handed down in each of the cases sends a strong message to would-be poachers and poaching gangs that the South African government is taking all the necessary and correct steps to ensure our rhino are protected.

However, given the significant numbers of poachers arrested over the last few years, the criminal justice system is under extreme pressure to process and finalise these cases. In relation to the Kruger National Park 25 cases, involving 46 accused were finalised between January and end of June 2019 (involving the cumulative imprisonment jail sentence of 237 years). However, despite the dedicated and tireless work required to finalise these cases, 201 cases remain on the court roll, involving 359 accused and 588 charges.

1.5 Ports of Entry and Exit

During the reporting period rhino horns were confiscated in VietNam, Hong Kong and Turkey and the Department requested information and DNA samples from the CITES Management Authorities in respect of these seizures. The analysis of these samples and comparison of the results to the RHODIS database enables us to pinpoint where the horns seized originate from (in particular we are able to individualise specific animals and trace the samples to either specific poached animals or specific stockpile horns). This information is extremely valuable to assist in global investigations – both for investigators in South Africa and in the country of seizure.

Although we received feedback from Turkey and Hong Kong indicating that they are willing to send the DNA samples to South Africa, these samples have still not be received. In addition to receiving very limited rhino DNA samples from countries where seizures take place, South Africa is unfortunately also receiving very little information about the seizures themselves, the modus operandi and the people involved in these seizures, even though these countries indicated their intention to comply with the CITES resolutions. Resolution 9.14 (Rev CoP17) paragraphs 1. e) i), f) and g) on the Conservation of and trade in African and Asian Rhinoceroses have been received only from two countries.

The Department has received very good co-operation in the past from Malaysia and Singapore where links have been made to poaching incidents in South Africa and Kenya with the DNA of the confiscated horns.

2. Managing Rhino Populations

2.1 Biological Management

The continental population of white rhinos was declining by 2017 as per the report of the African Rhino Specialist Group (AfRSG) to the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The continental black rhino populations are, however, increasing.

Sadly, South Africa was one of two countries that recorded white rhino declines by the end of 2017. White rhinos in South Africa declined by 51% in Kruger National Park and 26% in other state-owned parks and game reserves from 2012 to 2017. Even though precise estimates are not available for the number of rhinos on private land, available data indicate that the number of rhinos on private land in South Africa continued to increase over the same period by approximately 27%.

The integrated initiatives of SANParks to manage its rhino populations have had varied successes. In the smaller rhino parks other than Kruger National Park, black rhinos of both sub-species, as well as white rhinos, are increasing.

Within Kruger National Park, the continued onslaught of poaching resulted in continued declines of rhinos. SANParks conducted a distribution survey of rhinos that forms part of predicting future rhino localities that can inform pro-active anti-poaching and biological management. This also allowed the evaluation of the robustness of the techniques to obtain formal rhino estimates

Of considerable note is the fact that the Kruger National Park has introduced an experimental dehorning of rhino as an intervention to offset poaching in the Park. This will be done on specific animals and targeted to poaching hotspots in order to decrease incentives for the poachers.

2.2 Poaching Statistics

Rhino poaching has continued to decline which is in part due to the implementation of the Integrated Strategic Management of Rhinoceros Approach and the dedication of the men and women working day and night at the coalface to save the species.

During the period of January to June 2019, the number of rhino poached countrywide was 318. This was a decrease compared to the same period in 2018 when 386 rhino were killed for their horns.

A total of 190 rhino have been poached in the KNP for the period January to June 2019 despite the 1202 incursions and poacher activities recorded in the Park in the first six months of this year.

Despite success in driving down poaching in South Africa in recent years, rhino populations cannot keep pace with current poaching rates, and some are now in decline. Organised crime groups are exploiting rural, economically marginalised communities, neighbouring rhino reserves, particularly those in Mozambique and are undermining efforts at good governance and democracy, stimulating corruption and introducing other forms of serious crime in these areas.

As a result of this and as part of the implementation of the Rhino Conservation Lab, the Department continues to invest in partnerships with rural communities adjacent to National Parks. In March 2019, for example, a soccer tournament was held with 450 learners from 24 schools in Phalaborwa. These learners are now empowered to promote rhino protection within their communities as part of the Rhino Ambassadors programme, which aims to raise awareness about rhino conservation.

The provincial and national breakdown for 2019 (January to end of June) is as follows:
stats.jpg (44.32 KiB) Viewed 56 times

While elephant poaching has decreased substantially in the Kruger National Park during 2019 in comparison to the same period for 2018, 8 elephants have been poached in the KNP so far this year (January to June 2019).

3. Long-term Sustainability Interventions

3.1 Export of live rhinoceros

As part of interventions to ensure long term sustainability of our rhinos by expanding the range in which these magnificent animals roam, the Department of Environmental Affairs has recommended the export of a total of 105 live rhino from South Africa between January 2018 and March 2019. These exports were both for zoological purposes and for reintroduction to range states which includes Botswana, Namibia, The Kingdom of eSwatini and Zambia.

3.2 Domestic sale of rhino horn

Since the dismissal by the Constitutional Court in 2017, of the application by the Minister of Environmental Affairs to appeal the 2015 decision of the High Court of South Africa (Gauteng Division, Pretoria) to set aside the moratorium on the domestic trade in rhino horn, a total of 54 permits have been issued for the national trade in rhinoceros horns. In respect of the permits issued, 23 permits were granted for the sale of a total of 2075 rhino horns, 1 permit for the donation of 14 rhino horns, 1 permit for receiving 14 rhino horns as a donation, 1 permit for the donation of 4 rhino horns, 1 permit for receiving 4 rhino horns as a donation while permits were granted to 27 buyers.

4. International and regional cooperation

Although we immediately reach out to relevant authorities in countries where rhino horn seizures occur, specific challenges remain in obtaining relevant information related to seizures as well as DNA samples for analysis from a number of countries. More meaningful mechanisms need to be explored to improve on the international collaboration required to effectively conduct transnational investigations.

Co-operation with our regional partners remains strong, including with Namibia, Lesotho, The Kingdom of eSwatini and Mozambique. The governments of South Africa and Mozambique continue to work together to implement the Memorandum of Understanding on Biodiversity Conservation and Management, with meetings taking place on a regular basis. While a number of successes have been registered in critical areas, work at present is directed at organising a Ministerial bilateral meeting between the Minister of Land, Environment and Rural Development in Mozambique, Mr. Ismael Correia, and South Africa’s newly-appointed Minister of Environment, Foresty and Fisheries, Ms. Barbara Creecy. The meeting is expected to focus on the success and challenges of the past five years and future areas of cooperation.

The Department of Environmental Affairs calls on members of the public to report any suspicious activities around wildlife to its environmental crime hotline which is 0800 205 005 or the SAPS number 10111.

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Re: Rhino Poaching 2017/2018/2019

Post by Klipspringer » Wed Jul 31, 2019 1:34 pm

In the first 6 months of 2019, 318 rhino have been poached countrywide, a modest decline of 68 incidents over the same period last year.
https://www.environment.gov.za/mediarel ... ronmentday

318 or 316 is not a big difference, but shows that the entire reporting is questionable.

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Re: Rhino Poaching 2017/2018/2019

Post by Richprins » Wed Jul 31, 2019 1:41 pm

It is amazing that there are so many rhino in Kruger left to poach! :shock:

I know for a fact that the Mozambican poachers are struggling, and even they have to rely on informants within Kruger.
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Re: Rhino Poaching 2017/2018/2019

Post by Lisbeth » Wed Jul 31, 2019 1:49 pm

Right or wrong it's the first time that some recent numbers have been published ^Q^ ^Q^ They have alwas been at least a year behind :yes:
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Re: Rhino Poaching 2017/2018/2019

Post by Lisbeth » Sun Aug 04, 2019 9:59 am

––– BREAKING: South African government reports back on rhino poaching for the first half of 2019 :: STROOP's ANALYSIS –––

President Ramaphosa's new Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy visited the Kruger National Park this morning on World Ranger Day where she delivered a speech honouring our rangers... and her department also issued a much anticipated report on rhino poaching for the first six-months of 2019.
Our in-depth analysis of Minister Creecy's speech and the Department's report-back below (links to speech and report also below):

Minister Creecy's speech to the rangers had everything we wanted to hear from the new Minister... more support promised for the rangers on the ground in terms of tools and rewards as well as acknowledgment that rhino poaching is still a critical problem. And that the most important way to tackle it, is to sort-out the economic crisis bordering our national parks and private reserves, Minister Creecy added, "this is a necessity if we are to avoid our youth falling prey to syndicates recruiting foot-soldiers for illegal activities."

Mentioned several times in her speech, the Minister has made it very clear that the department is still on track with its sustainable utilization of wildlife which has come under heavy attack from activists for not being welfare considerate. Some even saying that the department is under "capture" from the hunting lobby... while on the other side, private rhino owners complain that sustainability is just talk from the department and that their input into the national economy is not being recognized and that the department is thwarting their efforts to sustainably harvest rhino horn.

Minister Creecy has an impressive track record from her time as Gauteng's Finance MEC but she has taken over an incredibly large portfolio with Forestry and Fisheries being added. She is no doubt being schooled by her DGs and dept. advisors in a bid to catch-up, but with all the woes in government at the moment, the old Department of Environmental Affairs (now Environment, Forestry and Fisheries) was well-run and has looming issues like climate change and air-pollution affecting South Africans who elected her boss. It is hoped that rhinos do not take a back seat but the current positive upsurge from the public wanting to know more about our rhinos, will hopefully keep her focus on them.

Looking at the rhino poaching report-back, there's lots to unpack and we'd love to go into it all (especially why seized rhino horn DNA is not being sent back to South Africa despite all the MOUs signed and CITES stipulations for inter-governmental co-operation on international seizures PS, we've had a lot lately) but sticking with what's close to our hearts... wild rhinos in our National and Provincial parks. We can see that the Department is claiming success for a decrease in rhino poaching numbers, and the mainstream media has picked up on this and is reporting the steady decline as "numbers down!" Or "beginning to win the war!"*
Decline in rhino carcasses counted does not mean we are winning the war, and here is why:

We first noted the alarming white rhino decline in Kruger in our article for Africa Geographic earlier this year when we wrote that the numbers have declined around 50% over seven years. We got a bit of flack for that, so it's important to see that it is being acknowledged here today, "White rhinos in South Africa declined by 51% in Kruger National Park... from 2012 to 2017", but of course terribly sad that this is the case and this is the crux of the whole thing... we cannot think we are winning the war by a 14% reduction in poaching in Kruger (222 for last year's first six months vs 190 now) while our rhinos are half of what they were in the park. Sadly the onslaught continues in KZN where the poaching numbers stayed the same.

Again, looking deeply at the numbers, we can see that it's our ranger corps that are having to carry this continued fight as the onslaught is not stopping. 1,202 poacher incursions into the park over this time... that's 200 a month... 7 poaching gangs enter the park every single day. Every day. And those are only the recorded incursions, the ones that are picked up. So it's easy to see why we are not winning the war BUT without huge effort from the Kruger rangers (pilots, police, prosecutors, etc)... we would not still be in the fight.

Dehorning inside the park and doing distribution surveys to predict future rhino locations sounds a little like SANParks's ecologists are panicking... as we were always told that dehorning inside of Kruger was impossible to do because the population was too large. That there, should tell us what we need to know about our remaining numbers. Plus we're still waiting for the official census results and its been rumoured that an additional total count census was conducted which showed much lower numbers than the official block counting census done every Aug/Sept. But this is speculation until those numbers are released. Important to remember that rhino management at a global level is done on those numbers. So they are very important.

*The report also contradicts the positive and negative message released, i.e. "Rhino poaching has continued to decline which is in part due to the implementation of the Integrated Strategic Management of Rhinoceros Approach" and then "despite success in driving down poaching in South Africa in recent years, rhino populations cannot keep pace with current poaching rates, and some are now in decline" and elsewhere in the report, "within Kruger National Park, the continued onslaught of poaching resulted in continued declines of rhinos." We're covering bases here by having a decline in rhino numbers and rhino carcasses. Not sure we can have both?

In closing, while the Department has passionate individuals doing a considerable amount to combat poaching, it is interesting to see the Department continuing to congratulate itself on its five-year old plan, "the Integrated Strategic Management of Rhinoceros continues to deliver successes..." but in her speech this morning, the Minister went on to say, "the time has come for us to review our efforts in the war on illegal poaching and wildlife trade. Together with our sister departments in the Security and Justice Cluster we need: better controls at our ports of exit, more support in the war on the ground, and faster prosecution of offenders...I will be meeting with Minister Bheki Cele and Minister Ronald Lamola so we can better co-ordinate our collective efforts against increasingly syndicated poaching crimes."
Clearly Minister Creecy's call to review old ways is welcome news and we look forward to hearing her new plan.

Minister Creecy's speech:
https://www.environment.gov.za/…/creecy ... gers_world

Report: https://www.environment.gov.za/…/barbar ... inopoachin
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Re: Rhino Poaching 2017/2018/2019

Post by Lisbeth » Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:24 am

366 rhino 'poachers' arrested in Kruger National Park since start of 2018

2019-08-12 19:34 | Jan Gerber

While 366 alleged rhino poachers were arrested in the Kruger National Park since the start of last year, 472 white rhinos were poached in the park between April 1, 2018, and July 31, 2019.

This was revealed in Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy's reply to a written parliamentary question by DA MP James Lorimer.

Apart from the 366 people who were arrested in the park, seven were also arrested in the Pilanesberg National Park and three in the Motala National Park between January 1, 2018, and July 31, 2019.

Of the 376 arrested, 15 worked for SANParks.

Between April 1, 2018, and July 31, 2019, 472 white rhinos were poached in Kruger, 28 in Pilanesberg, one in Mokala, and two in Marakele.

During the same period, 32 black rhinos were poached in Kruger and three in Pilanesberg.

Creecy said, in her response, due to the "persistent threat" of rhino poaching, South Africa was implementing a "holistic, integrated and multidimensional response", involving her department, the police, Hawks, SA National Defence Force, SARS' customs division, National Prosecuting Authority and State Security Agency.

"This approach has seen a moderate decline of 91 incidents from the same period last year," she added, saying the authorities were also collaborating across the borders to "ensure rhino poachers are brought to book".
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Re: Rhino Poaching 2017/2018/2019

Post by Alf » Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:31 am

It's still too many that dies and not enough poachers caught O/
Next trip to the bush??

Let me think......................(stop thinking, next trip booked)

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Re: Rhino Poaching 2017/2018/2019

Post by Peter Betts » Tue Aug 13, 2019 7:07 pm

Alf wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:31 am
It's still too many that dies and not enough poachers caught O/
Getting all those USELESS , incompetant departments together means NOTHING ..Destroy Massinger town in Moz (The Epicentre of World Rhino Poaching

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Re: Rhino Poaching 2017/2018/2019

Post by Lisbeth » Sun Aug 18, 2019 9:41 am

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Image Hotspots: The race to save Black Rhinos
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