SOUTH AFRICA: BLOW THE WHISTLE ON RHINO POACHERS

PRETORIA-Environmental Affairs Minister, Dr Edna Molewa, has called on all South Africans to join hands with government to put an end to rhino poaching by reporting suspected poaching activities.

By blowing the whistle on all forms of wildlife crime, you are not only contributing towards saving a species for future generations to enjoy and benefit from, you are also contributing to a safer society, Molewa said on Friday in a statement.

She released a statement on the occasion of World Rhino Day, thanking all government departments, law enforcement agencies, civil society and all South Africans for their commitment to conserve one of the world's most iconic species, the rhino.

While it is important to acknowledge the efforts of government departments and agencies in implementing the Integrated Strategic Management of Rhinoceros approach; at the same time we must recognise the efforts of our communities, the NGO community, business, and all ordinary South Africans who are doing their part, Molewa said.

Every year on 22 September, the world marks World Rhino Day to raise awareness around the impact of rhino poaching.

As home to the largest population of rhino in the world, South Africa continues to have a proud record for species conservation despite the grim impact of the illicit transnational wildlife trade on our rhino, we continue to register successes in bringing poaching numbers down, said Molewa.

According to the Department of Environmental Affairs, South Africa brought the rhino back from the brink of extinction in the 1960s and today has an estimated 20 000 black and white rhino.

The department has credited this achievement to the collaborative conservation efforts of government departments and agencies, private rhino owners, NGOs and most importantly, the efforts of communities living adjacent to national parks as well as state ad privately-owned conservation areas.

The department used World Rhino Day to reassure South Africans that government has strict legislative provisions in place to ensure that the domestic trade in rhino horn takes place in a well-regulated manner.

The international trade in rhino horn remains prohibited in terms of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Bringing local communities into the mainstream of conservation is central to government's anti-poaching strategy. To this end, World Rhino Day serves as an opportunity to build and instil a culture of responsible citizenship amongst communities living adjacent to conservation areas, the department said.

Through the National Biodiversity Strategy (BES) government aims to give historically disadvantaged communities a greater stake in the wildlife economy, including through game donation and supporting community-owned tourism ventures.

Wildlife tourism is the mainstay of our country's economy; rhino poaching negatively impacts our reputation as a tourism destination, which in turn impacts the ability of the tourism sector to generate jobs and sustainable livelihoods, especially for communities in rural areas where most of our parks are located, Molewa said.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

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