Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa thanks all South Africans for their efforts to conserve the rhino on the occasion of World Rhino Day
On the occasion of World Rhino Day, the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa, has thanked all government departments, law enforcement agencies, civil society and all South Africans for their commitment to conserve one of the world's most iconic species, the rhino.
"Whilst it is important to acknowledge the efforts of government departments and agencies in implementing the Integrated Strategic Management of Rhinoceros approach, at the same time we must recognise the efforts of our communities, the NGO community, business, and all ordinary South Africans who are doing their part," said Minister Molewa.
Every year on September 22nd, the world marks World Rhino Day to raise awareness around the impact of rhino poaching. The theme of this year's World Rhino Day is Five Rhino Species Forever; in reference to the five species of rhino: the Black rhino, While rhino, Greater one-horned rhino, Sumatran and Javan rhinos.
"As home to the largest population of rhino in the world, South Africa continues to have a proud record for species conservation... despite the grim impact of the illicit transnational wildlife trade on our rhino, we continue to register successes in bringing poaching numbers down," said Dr. Molewa.
South Africa brought the rhino back from the brink of extinction in the 1960's and today has an estimated 20 000 black and white rhino.
This is thanks to the collaborative conservation efforts of government departments and agencies, private rhino owners, NGO's and most importantly, the efforts of communities living adjacent to national parks as well as state ad privately-owned conservation areas.
Key aspects of the Integrated Strategic Management (ISM) Approach are managing rhino populations, compulsory interventions (including proactive anti-poaching measures), international and national collaboration and cooperation, as well as long-term sustainability measures.
Significant progress has been made with regards to the implementation of the interventions, such as a slow but steady decline in rhino poaching numbers.
The Integrated Strategic Management Approach draws together the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster Departments as well as the Departments of Defence, Environmental Affairs, Justice, Constitutional Development and Correctional Services, the South African Police Service (SAPS), Ministry of State Security and its Agency, South African National Parks (SANParks), the South African Revenue Service (SARS), as well as provincial conservation authorities.
There has in recent months been an increase in the number of detections of illegally trafficked rhino horn at ports of entry and exit thanks to the work of the Department's Environmental Management Inspectors, better known as the Green Scorpions. They work in collaboration with SARS' customs and excise unit, the SAPS and other law enforcement entities stationed at the airport.
The Department used World Rhino Day to reassure South Africans that government has strict legislative provisions in place to ensure that the domestic trade in rhino horn takes place in a well-regulated manner. The international trade in rhino horn remains prohibited in terms of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Bringing local communities into the mainstream of conservation is central to government's anti-poaching strategy. To this end, World Rhino Day serves as an opportunity to build and instil a culture of responsible citizenship amongst communities living adjacent to conservation areas.
It is communities who suffer the most from the increased insecurity that results when there is poaching-related activity in the vicinity in which they live.
Through the National Biodiversity Strategy (BES) government aims to give historically disadvantaged communities a greater stake in the wildlife economy, including through game donation and supporting community-owned tourism ventures.
"Wildlife tourism is the mainstay of our country's economy; rhino poaching negatively impacts our reputation as a tourism destination, which in turn impacts the ability of the tourism sector to generate jobs and sustainable livelihoods, especially for communities in rural areas where most of our parks are located," said Dr. Molewa.
She added: "when our communities, and rural communities in particular have a real, tangible stake in the natural resources sector, we are able to remove the incentive to become involved in poaching."
The Minister called on all South Africans to join hands with government to put an end to rhino poaching by reporting suspected rhino poaching activities.
"By blowing the whistle on all forms of wildlife crime you are not only contributing towards saving a species for future generations to enjoy and benefit from, you are also contributing to a safer society," said the Minister.
Issued by: Department of Environmental Affairs