Massive decline in rhino poaching during hard lockdown
About 166 animals rhinos were killed for their horns across the country since the beginning of the year, the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries announced on Friday.
During the first six months of 2019, a total of 316 animals were poached.
Minister Barbara Creecy believes that the government's various anti-rhino poaching interventions are now paying off.
However, environmental activist Bonné de Bod says the decline is clearly due to the Covid-19 lockdown which limited the movement of people.
De Bod, a documentary filmmaker who produced the award-winning wildlife documentary 'Stroop', says there was a dramatic drop in poaching from April, shortly after the hard lockdown was implemented.
She says that the strict regulations in the initial stages of the lockdown made it impossible for poachers and syndicates to operate.
The first three months [of 2020] have had 72% of all the rhino killings this year.Bonné de Bod, conservationist and documentary filmmaker
This is of course due to the lockdown, it's plain to see in the monthly breakdown [of figues].Bonné de Bod, conservationist and documentary filmmaker
De Bod warns that the rhino poaching figures may increase in the coming months as the government relaxes lockdown regulations.
I do suspect that we will see a dramatic increase in poaching with the lockdown being eased.Bonné de Bod, conservationist and documentary filmmaker
Minister Creecy said this morning that no rhinos were killed in the intensive protection zone in Kruger for the first time in almost 10 years.Bonné de Bod, conservationist and documentary filmmaker
She's also concerned that the reduction in rhino poaching could suggest that the country's rhino populations are also decreasing.
Without an updated rhino census, the filmmaker says it's difficult to tell how much poachers have impacted rhino populations.
A rhino census is an official count or survey of the live rhinos left in the Kruger National Park and other areas.
I'm always worried that our rhino poaching reductions are actually indicating a reduction in living numbers, quite simply because there are fewer rhinos left to poach.Bonné de Bod, conservationist and documentary filmmaker
Our recent declines haven't always been a good indication because it sort of gives a false impression that we are winning the war.Bonné de Bod, conservationist and documentary filmmaker
Poaching gang incursions have been increasing every year, our Kruger census results have not been released for a number of years and that is very worrying because when those census results are released, we will see how dramatically poaching has affected our rhino population in Kruger.Bonné de Bod, conservationist and documentary filmmaker
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