South African National Parks (SANParks) has begun implementation of a comprehensive rhino management strategy, starting with the relocation and auction of a limited number of white rhinos from the Kruger National Park (KNP).
This is in line with a rhino management strategy adopted by Cabinet in August this year, aimed at curbing poaching in the country’s national parks.
At the time of the announcement, the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, emphasised the importance of relocating a number of rhino from Kruger National Park as soon as possible.
SANParks chairman Kuseni Dlamini said today: “We are now ready to move, and to begin implementation of our entire rhino management strategy.
“Relocation is the core of our approach – not only to combat poaching, but to ensure the continued growth of the rhino population.
“We aim to restimulate growth in large protected areas while creating new rhino strongholds. In this way, we will be able to offset the effects of poaching in the short to medium-term, while expanding rhino range and improving the overall population size.”
Mr Dlamini added: “The strategy is multi-faceted, and includes relocating some rhino from the Kruger National Park to create rhino strongholds in other parts of the country – ensuring that the broader population continues to grow.
“We will begin by relocating rhinos from specific high-risk parts of the park and from areas where there is a high population density, as this will also increase birth rates among the rhinos that remain in the park.
“This will include the relocation of rhinos from high-risk zones to zones of lower risk in the Kruger National Park, as well as to other parks under our control.
“Increasing births and decreasing death rates, through the relocation exercise, will stimulate growth in large protected areas and maximise growth in rhino strongholds – allowing South Africa to offset poaching effects in the short to medium term while also expanding rhino range and growing the overall population size.”
The relocation of rhino and other species from the Kruger National Park has always been part of the SANParks Management Plan, and the relocation of 1 450 rhino from the park between 1997 and 2013 has contributed significantly to the growth of the South African rhino population.
SANParks is currently finalising provisions for the sale of rhino and will call for offers to purchase in a series of newspaper advertisements soon.
The SANParks Board recently cancelled a planned sale because proper governance procedures were not followed.
“We have ironed these issues out and the sale will be fully compliant with our own supply chain processes and our conservation mandate,” Mr Dlamini said. “Planning is already well underway for the first auction of rhinos, which will take place later this year.”
Mr Dlamini emphasised that SANParks will strictly regulate prospective purchasers, and require them to sign agreements to ensure relocated animals contribute to the conservation of the species and the growth of the rhino population as a whole.
"These agreements will be linked to management plans with clear objectives and targets for the growth of populations that are being introduced in new range areas,” he said.
A due diligence process will be followed with all sales, including background checks on prospective buyers, and anyone wanting to purchase more than 20 rhino has to comply with habitat and ecological suitability and security requirements. The due diligence process includes a risk assessment to ensure the safety of the animals, and buyers will be required to present a security plan that ensures the animals’ safety as well as a conservation plan.
The money raised from the sale will be ploughed back into conservation. This includes the purchase of additional conservation land to expand the range for rhinos, the restoration of ecosystems and the employment of additional rangers.
The Board of SANParks
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