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South Africa National Parks (SANParks) has notified members of the media that it will not be providing updates regarding the rhino crisis “until further notice” and has referred matters to the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA).
The following email was distributed today:
Please note that from now until further notice all matters related to rhino poaching will be addressed by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA). This will include all the periodic updates that SANParks has been giving to the media about rhino poaching statistics, all interviews related to rhino poaching and all issues of clarity or information. The person to contact in the DEA is Albi Modise on email@example.com / 0834902871.
South Africa’s Shadow Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Gareth Morgan, tweeted that “today’s announcement by @sanparks that it will not provide #rhino poaching stats (only nat.govt will) creates unnecessary suspicion”.
As of this writing, SANPark’s latest media release regarding the rhino crisis was on February 29th, at which time it was announced that four Kruger National Park employees had been arrested “in connection with rhino poaching activities”.
The arrest of the four KNP based officials who are all stationed in the Pretoriuskop section of the park was as a result of an investigation conducted by members of a joint SANParks and SAPS team of officials, which also included the SAPS K9 Unit for Endangered Species, after an earlier discovery of two freshly killed rhino which were found in the Pretoriuskop section of the KNP.
At the time, SANParks reported that 50 people had been arrested for rhino crimes since the beginning of the year and that 80 rhinos had been killed (43 killed in Kruger National Park).
Unconfirmed sources claim that South Africa’s rhino death toll for 2012 has already surpassed 100.