South African Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Barbara Creecy said on Friday that the Covid-19 lockdown regulations, which restrict movement across the country, have helped reduce rhino poaching by more than 50% in the first six months of 2020.
“After a decade of implementing various strategies and campaigning against ever-increasing rhino poaching by local poachers recruited and managed by crime syndicates, efforts are paying off,” said Creecy in a statement on Friday.
The Covid-19 lockdown was implemented on March 27 under the direction of President Cyril Ramaphosa, to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Creecy said part of the reduction in poaching was due to a disruption in the supply chain as national travel restrictions were implemented
“The diligence of SARS (SA Revenue Service) customs officials and members of the Green Scorpions that resulted in the consignments being uncovered, and the resulting arrest by the Hawks of a shipping agent, is a prime example of the excellent relationship and teamwork between departments and entities to stamp out the illicit trade in rhino horn and other wildlife products,” said Creecy.
According to the minister, in April no rhino was killed in the Kruger National Park, which was a first in almost 10 years.
In the first six months of 2020, 166 rhinos were killed for their horns, whereas in the first six months of 2019, a total of 316 rhinos were poached in South Africa.
From March 27, the start of the Covid-19 lockdown, until the end of June, 46 rhinos were poached across the country.
Of these, 14 rhinos were poached in April, 13 in May and 19 in June.
In the first six months of 2020 (excluding the month of April), 88 rhinos were poached in the Kruger National Park alone and 38 poachers were arrested.
A total of 23 accused were convicted.
According to Creecy, between January and June, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) not only obtained convictions in 15 cases but also maintained a conviction rate of 100%.