The Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga has urged the public to come up with initiatives that would help in the fight against rhino poaching.
This emerged during the 5th Ubuntu Soccer Tournament held at the park, involving football teams from local radio stations, and those from neighboring countries, Mozambique and Swaziland. The theme for the tournament was fighting rhino poaching.
Based on statistics, carcasses of rhino discovered in the Kruger National Park, have decreased in the past three years. In 2016, 557 carcasses were found in the park compared to 458 in 2017. Out of the 414 arrests of alleged poachers made in the country in 2016, 177 were made in Kruger National Park.
Kruger National Park spokesperson, Willam Mabasa praised the tournament organisers for raising awareness around poaching. Mabasa believes everyone has to be involved in the anti-rhino poaching campaigns – to preserve the wild heritage.
Mpumalanga Community Safety, Security and Liaison MEC, Pat Ngomane, says the involvement of stakeholders from the two neighbouring countries will intensify already existing anti-poaching campaigns.
“We want to believe that these people who are gathered here in their majority, when they go back home they are going to spread this good message of protecting these rhinos which are our treasures… they are going to spread a positive message in their homes and neighboring countries.”
Meanwhile, tournament organisers say the power of the medium of radio will ensure citizens from the three different countries receive the message at once.
SABC Mpumalanga Sports Coordinator, Bheki Sehlabela, says any developments in one of these countries affects the other.
“Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland are three countries interrelated, neighbours… and you can have breakfast in Mozambique, lunch in South Africa and then dinner in Swaziland… so everything that’s happening amongst these three countries its interrelated; so we are trying to make sure that each and everyone of these three countries plays a part in trying to make sure that we fight the crime which anti-rhino poaching – because you will find that South Africans are used by Mozambicans – and when people poach rhinos in SA they sell them to Mozambique, its very important for these three countries to join hands and this scourge of rhino poaching,” expressed Sehlabela.
In the past few years, the Kruger National Park has introduced a number of initiatives which include using high technology, border control and partnership with communities neighbouring the park to also participate in these campaigns.