Thursday, July 24, 2014

Kruger National Park Contemplates Evacuating Rhinos Targeted by Poachers

A white rhinoceros in Kruger National Park

It has recently been reported that Kruger National Park in South Africa is considering a plan to evacuate some of its rhinos out in order to protect them from poachers. According to the national park's spokesman William Mabasa, the objective is to "spread the risk" by moving rhinos to other game reserves because Kruger National Park is heavily targeted by poachers. He further added that no decision has been made on the announcement and that there is no promise that other national parks are safe since "poachers are going everywhere." Although Mr. Mabasa did not disclose how many rhinos might be evacuated under the evacuation proposal, he pointed out that Kruger National Park has experience in moving rhinos and sending them to South Africa's private game reserves and conservation organizations outside the country. He also indicated that rhinos were transferred to Kruger National Park from the KwaZulu-Natal province in the 1960s.
A poached rhino in Kruger National Park

This article coincides to some degree with a similar news report that came early this year about a plan to relocate rhinos from South Africa to Botswana as part of an anti-poaching campaign. The reason is because South Africa has continuously been heavily affected by poaching targeted towards its rhino population, and no wild place has continued to bear the brunt of this ongoing poaching epidemic than Kruger National Park. Poachers have been known to cross into this 19,485-square kilometer national park from Mozambique and often evade teams of park rangers that operate with restricted aerial surveillance, allowing them to take their toll on rhinos at epic proportions. In 2013 alone, South Africa had lost a record of 1,004 rhinos in the hands of poachers and roughly 560 so far this year with well over half killed in Kruger National Park. Despite international efforts to aid South Africa's conservation efforts, the country's rhinos continue to be brutally massacred by poachers who are believed to be working for international criminal syndicates that are targeting rhinos for their horns. The plan to evacuate Kruger National Park's rhinos is currently in the process of being discussed, but I very much hope that this discussion will not delay the proposal to move the rhinos from Kruger National Park to other national parks and game reserves inside and outside South Africa. At the same time, international and national tourists coming to Kruger National Park should be notified about the evacuation of its rhinos and the reasons behind it. In addition, tourists should also be notified of any poaching activities occurring in Kruger National Park for the sake of their safety. This would allow members of the park's staff, along with law enforcement and military officials, to conduct their duties of patrolling the park's vicinity and establishing security checkpoints around its boundaries especially along the South Africa-Mozambique border. Furthermore, those national parks and game reserves targeted for the relocation of Kruger National Park's rhinos should be put on high alert for poachers and follow procedures concerning safety of both tourists and wildlife.

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