As part of a nation-wide effort to protect a key member of the iconic big five, seven integrated wildlife zones will be introduced across Mzansi.
Announced by the minister of environment, forestry and fisheries, Barbra Creecy, the world’s largest black and white rhino populations will now be better protected through the wildlife zones.
In a media statement released by her department, the minister stated, “By demarcating areas primarily around rhino populations, wildlife in the area, as well the people living in and around conservation areas, will be protected.”
According to the department, the zoning approach is aligned to the objectives of South Africa’s national integrated strategy to combat wildlife trafficking. It aims to redirect necessary resources to areas most in need of support, while also ensuring cooperation between government and private role-players.
“This initiative prevents borders and boundaries from inhibiting planning and the implementation of actions aimed at halting rhino poaching and the smuggling of rhino horn,” said the Minister.
A mid-year report by the South African department of environmental affairs states that 318 rhinos were poached in the first six months of 2019. In Africa, criminals killed nearly 900 rhinos last year.
Internationally supported effort
All in an effort to become more pro-active, the zones initiative proposes to ensure the use of appropriate technologies to guarantee surveillance, early warning and detection.
The concept is similar to the integrated protection zones previously utilized within national and provincial parks and is based on multi-party cooperation.
The wildlife zone initiative is supported by the Peace Parks Foundation and funded by the U.S. department of state’s bureau of international narcotics and law enforcement affairs. It is also supported by the Dutch, Swedish and UK people’s postcode lotteries.
Earlier in September, the International Rhino Foundation released the 2020 state of the rhino report. It showed that the covid-19 pandemic had brought an unexpected benefit for wildlife, including rhinos. In Africa, the black rhino population increased slightly, to 5,630 from 5,500 in 2019.
Despite the marked decrease in rhino poaching during the covid-19 national lockdown, the government’s target remains to put an end to rhino poaching.
“We hope that as our provincial borders open more people will be able to travel to our national parks and other conservation areas to experience first-hand our natural heritage, and see these ancient animals in the wild,” Creecy said.