Could the tide be turning at last?
Brigadier General “Koos” Liebenberg, director conventional operations at the Joint Operations Division of the SANDF said 40 rhino-related incidents were recorded in March. This fell to 30 in April, 15 in May and just two in June. By Wednesday, no incidents had been reported for July.
There has also been an increase in YTD arrests to 127, and military presence was stepped up in April.
The 165 soldiers of B-Company, 21 South African Infantry Battalion, deployed to the Sandrivier base near Skukuza in April and quickly became involved in “Operation Rhino”, an inter-departmental, inter-agency joint operation to combat the illegal hunting and killing of the horned animal.
At least fifteen rhino killers were given a taste of their own medicine and another nine were injured when they clashed with authorities.
(Note: IOL.com cites the March figure overall as “more than 50″ and reports four rhinos killed since June in Kruger National Park.)
‘Khaki collar mafia’
South African National Parks’ (SANParks) environmental inspection section head Ken Maggs said via defenceWeb that the “khaki collar mafia” is an area of particular concern.
This refers to the use of legal trade loopholes as a cover for rhino-related crimes, such as “permit violations, illegal hunting and rhino dehorning, horn possession, dealing and racketeering”.
To learn more about South Africa’s “khaki collar mafia” crimes, check out:
- South African Hunting Safari Operator Linked to Illegal Rhino Horn Trade and Thai Strippers
- Concern Grows Around South Africa’s Legal Trade in Live Rhinos
- Mules Hunting Rhinos? Sinister Scam Unfolds in South Africa
- Court Date Approaches for South African ‘Groenewald Gang’ Rhino Horn Syndicate Suspects
Image: Wikimedia Commons