If you’re in South Africa and happen to see a rhino dangling from a helicopter, pump your fist: it’s being flown to safety in a new government bid to outsmart poachers.
Last year in Kruger National Park 606 rhinos were killed by poachers – a huge hit considering only 8400-9600 white rhinos live in the park. (Some perspective: Kruger is absolutely massive – it measures around 20,000 square kilometres, which makes it bigger than the whole of France). And this year’s stats are even more horrifying: it’s not even September yet and already 408 have fallen within the park’s boundaries.
Now, the South African Government is moving 500 rhinos out of Kruger’s densely populated regions to quieter, safer (undisclosed) areas – a combo of other national parks within South Africa, private game reserves and even sanctuaries in neighbouring countries.
A similar evacuation took place back in 2011, with 19 rhinos being airlifted out of East South Africa and moved to safety with great results. In an official statement, SA Environment Minister Edna Molewa said:
“Our previous experience has shown that biological management, which includes translocations, has resulted in the growth of rhino numbers in South Africa […] Translocated rhinos contribute to the creation of alternative strongholds, which are areas where rhinos can be cost-effectively protected while applying conservation husbandry to maximise population growth.”
And just to stick it to the poachers even harder, the South African Police Service (SAPS) have now allocated more manpower to tackle the problem, including a team of detectives trained in wildlife crime investigations, forensics experts, the SAPS airwing, the flying squad and a dog unit to help the national parks team with investigations.
It’s a great start…