Protection efforts in South Africa’s biggest wildlife park have reduced rhino poaching there, though poaching syndicates may be moving operations to parks elsewhere in the country, a top official said today.
The carcasses of 458 poached rhinos were found in Kruger National Park between January and the end of August, down about 18 per cent from the same period last year, said Edna Molewa, South Africa’s environmental affairs minister.
A total of 414 alleged poachers have been arrested in South Africa so far this year, nearly half of them in Kruger park, according to the South African government. The park, which is almost the size of Israel, is infiltrated daily by teams of poachers, many of whom come from neighbouring Mozambique.
Record numbers of rhinos have been killed in South Africain recent years to meet demand for their horns in parts of Asia, particularly Vietnam. Consumers believe rhino horn, which is ground into powder, has medicinal benefits, but there is no scientific evidence to support the belief.
Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa. It covers an area of 19,485 square kilometres (7,523 sq mi) in the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga in northeastern South Africa, and extends 360 kilometres (220 mi) from north to south and 65 kilometres (40 mi) from east to west.
The administrative headquarters are in Skukuza. Areas of the park were first protected by the government of the South African Republic in 1898, and it became South Africa’s first national park in 1926.