Environmental Affairs minister Edna Molewa says commitment by law enforcement agencies working hand to hand with the civil society is aiding the country in the conservation of rhinos.

Molewa says the government’s strategy to combat rhino poaching has contributed towards the decrease in this illegal trade last year.

She says rhino poaching in and around the Kruger National Park has declined as compared to other provinces.

Molewa says nationally rhino poaching went down to 1028 last year as compared to 1054 in 2016.

She commended the police as well as special national park rangers for the arrest of about 446 alleged poachers in 2017, saying:

“A total of 502 alleged rhino poachers and 16 alleged traffickers were arrested nationally bringing the total figure to 518. This represents a decrease from 2016 when a total of 680 poachers and traffickers were arrested.”

On the detection of horn at ports of entry and exit like OR Tambo International Airport, Molewa says the environment management inspectors working with the police and South African Revenue Services continue to do great job:

“During 2017 there were 8 seizures of rhino horn at O.R Tambo International Airport. Our first case at ORTIA of 2018 involved the arrest of a South East Asian national. The woman has been charged with illegal possession of rhino horn and exporting without a CITES permit.”

Molewa says the rhino horn busting cases and the new techniques the poachers are using has made them to be more vigilant.

“We continue to register some success in our fight against Rhino poaching, but we are equally aware that the battle is not yet over. We would continue to be vigilant. The increase in other provinces of poaching rates and attempt coupled with the sharp rise in elephant poaching tells us that as we progress and involve so do the technics and methods of the poachers. It’s up to us therefore to remain ahead of the game at all times and we believe that we are equal to the task.”

Molewa has called on members of the public to report any suspicious activities around the wildlife to their nearest police station.