Government is beefing up security in the fight against wildlife crime. Over R235 million has been set aside for the project.
Two thousand young people around the country have been employed as environmental monitors in Game reserves and Wetland parks. They say they now know the importance of preserving and protecting wildlife.
The project also assists them put food on the table. Most of them are deployed in Rhino poaching hotspots. Umkhuze Game Reserve in Northern KZN is one of them.
The programme is bearing fruits as 26-year-old Phakamani Nyawo has already caught a poacher who has been convicted and is serving time in prison.
“Experience is the best teacher. I have experience which I’m proud of. My family has a great roof now without leaks and it’s because of my job,” he said.
Some monitors have been employed at Isimangaliso Wetlands park.
“What we need to do is to go out there and teach the community about the importance of nature conservation and make them understand why it’s important to conserve nature then they’ll join us,” adds another environmental monitor, Nokwanda Ngonyama.
Having monitors more visible in reserves has also benefited tourism.
While government is doing all that it can, it still needs additional financial support to sustain the programme.