Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife is tightening its security in an effort to prevent rhino poaching.
"Ezemvelo has strengthened its manpower by recruiting an additional 18 security personnel, who will be deployed in 10 rhino reserves," MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Sihle Zikalala, said.
On Wednesday, MEC Zikalala unveiled the province's anti-rhino poaching plans at a joint briefing between the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Department and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife at Spioenkop Nature Reserve.
"The province had also partnered with the Department of Environmental Affairs at national level to appoint 412 Environmental Monitors, who had been dispatched to 23 Ezemvelo Protected Areas," MEC Zikalala said.
The function of the monitors is to educate communities living adjacent to the protected areas of the importance of conservation and rhinos.
MEC Zikalala praised communities residing in the vicinity of game reserves, who blow the whistle on poachers.
"While the number of 172 rhinos killed this year is high, we realise that it could have been much higher had it not been for communities residing in the vicinity of our wildlife parks, who alert us to suspicious activity."
According to the MEC, co-management agreements were signed with communities in areas such as Ndumo, Tembe, Okhukho, Hlabisa and Mpukunyoni in an effort to strengthen the partnerships between Ezemvelo and communities.
Ezemvelo has also strengthened its own internal controls to ensure that none of its staff members collude with poachers.
"We have put in place a number of interventions geared towards proactively making it more onerous on poachers and syndicates to prey on these beasts.
"This includes, but is not limited to, the de-horning of small populations of rhino and taking immediate action against any staff member that is suspected to be involved in poaching syndicates.
"A Command Control Centre, whose function is to manage the deployment of security personnel and information management, has also been established in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park," MEC Zikalala said.