Friday, August 29, 2014

Media Release: More Arrests In The Mapungubwe Poaching Case

Date: 28th August 2014

Makhado - one more suspect in the case of a rhino poaching incident that took place in Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Site in July, has been arrested. This follows the arrest of four other suspects earlier this month.

The suspect was observed whilst he was attending the bail hearing of the four accused which took place on 26 August and was immediately arrested. The said bail hearing has been further remanded to the 26 September 2014 where he will appear together with the other four suspects.

“We are happy with the progress that is being made in this regard, our Environmental Crime Investigators team together with the South African Police Services have worked very hard in bringing these perpetrators to book” said SANParks Acting head of communications, Reynold Thakhuli.

Thakhuli further reminded the public to work with SAPS and SANParks in reporting the perpetrators should they know them in the communities.

Issued by:
South African National Parks (SANParks) Northern Region Communications
Tel: 012 426 5203

Media enquiries:
Reynold Thakhuli
Acting Head of Communications, SANParks
Tel: 012 426 5203; Cell: 073 373 4999
Email: rey.thakhuli@sanparks.org

Divhani Maremba
Regional Communications Manager (Northern Region)
Tel: 012 426 5304; Cell: 074 588 5789
Email: divhani.maremba@sanparks.org

SANParks Board Media Release

SANParks notes that in a number of media and social media articles, it is incorrectly stated that SANParks has sold 260 rhinos to private land owners in the Northern Cape.

This media reporting of sales of rhinos apparently refers to transactions which were based on the unauthorised commitment by a member of the SANParks Executive which exceeded the Board’s delegated authority. This member of the SANParks Executive has subsequently been suspended, pending disciplinary action, and an independent forensic audit has been commissioned into this matter. The Board of SANParks has not, prior to, or during, any subsequent time, approved any decision to sell any number of rhino. The SANParks Board has been constantly engaging with experts and stakeholders on the issue of combatting rhino poaching since the current poaching crisis emerged, as well as developing and implementing responses. In this context, the Board held a strategic workshop during July 2014 during which the revised rhino management strategy was formulated. Following the recent announcement of a cabinet-approved policy guidance by the Minister of Environmental Affairs, the Board is now in a position to finalise its strategy to address the rhino poaching crisis. “The Board has now made a decision to, inter alia,move some rhinos out of high risk areas or areas with too high densities of rhinos. These movements may include movements within parks, between parks, to provincial reserves, community areas or private areas”, said Kuseni Dlamini, Chairman of SANParks. “Rhino management implementation plans, which will include details of numbers and possible destinations, still need to be approved by the Board and the Minister of Environmental Affairs and will be undertaken with due sensitivity and in compliance with the relevant governance frameworks”, added Dlamini.

Issued by:
SANParks Board

Queries:
DR GC Dry Chairperson HR&REMCO, tel: 082 441 4426

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

On safari With Dean From 18 August 2014

18 August 2014

We picked up guests from the Radison Blu Gautrain and the shoestring backpackers. We took a drive through to Nelspruit, were we changed over vehicles and made our way to Nkambeni Safari Lodge. Guests checked in, enjoyed lunch and then had some free time before leaving at 16h30 on a sunset drive. Guests enjoyed their sunset drive, getting back at 19h30 and then enjoying dinner before retiring for a good nights rest.

19 August 2014

It was up early this morning, after guests enjoyed breakfast, we left camp at 06h30, going up the Numbi tar. It was not long before we got a call about some cheetah in the area, we made our way there and enjoyed a quality sighting, before moving on. We made our way down the Napi Road, getting good sightings of buffalo, elephant, kudu, impala and warthog. We made our way down the H3 to quagga pan, before returning to the camp as the first high temperatures of the season were being experienced.

Guests enjoyed lunch at Nkambeni Safari Lodge, and a bit of a rest. We left camp again at 15h30 and made our way down the Numbi road, before getting stopped by a visitor who told us of a hippo death on circle road, we decided to go there and take a look. It was not long before we found the hippo lying behind Pretoriuskop camp. There were a number of vultures around the hippo, so it was quite apparent that it was a hippo death and not a kill. We watched for a while, before moving on and getting other sightings of elephant and buffalo. We returned to camp, arriving back at 17h55. Guests enjoyed dinner, before retiring for the night.

20 August 2014

Today it was up early as two guests were departing on a morning walk, the other two guests, were taken out on a game drive, getting good sightings of elephant and another quick sighting of cheetah walking down the firebreak close to the camp of  pretoriuskop. As it was close to 09h00, we made our way back to the Nkambeni Safari Camp to pick up the other two guests before heading out to see what we could find. We took a drive down the Albasini Road, onto the Doispane Road to Nyamundwa dam, getting sightings of elephant, impala, kudu, hippo's and some good birds such as African Fish Eagle busy fishing at the dam.

The temperatures were rising rapidly, so we turned around and made our way to the Shabeni Kopies, before returning to camp. Tempretures rose to about thirty-five degrees during the day, so we left the camp at 15h30, however little was seen due to the high heat that was being experienced. We still managed to see elephant, impala, buffalo and brown spotted hyena.

We returned to the camp at about 18h20, due to us having a good sighting of a large buffalo heard on the camp road. Everyone had a good dinner, before retiring to bed.

21 August 2014

It was up early again, after packing the safari vehicle, and enjoying breakfast, it was out back on the road to see what we could find. We drove to the dead hippo, to see if any lions had arrived on the carcass, however only birds were encountered. We also got more sightings of elephant and buffalo, before making our way to the gate for our trip through to Nelspruit, before changing over to a Toyota Quantum for the trip back to Johannesburg.

Guests enjoyed the safari, but were a bit sorry for not having seen any lion or leopard, unfortunately sometimes this happens and predators cannot be guaranteed, especially in the summer months.


More coming soon!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Poachers Update

On Saturday, 23rd August 2014, rangers in the Kingfisherspruit section of the Kruger National Park made contact with a group of two suspected rhino poachers.

During the incident, one suspect was fatally wounded and the remaining suspect managed to escape arrest and further investigations are underway. 

A .458 hunting rifle, silencer, ammunition and poaching equipment were recovered during the operation.

Issued by:
South African National Parks

Friday, August 22, 2014

Bull Elephant Tipped A Car

Young Elephant Bull tipped a car over early this morning 21 August at Sable dam
People are all well, Luckily nobody got hurt. And the guy asked SANPARKS to please leave elephant alone. Young bull in musth, just wanted to cross over and little red car annoyed him.


Post and photo by Latest Sightings Kruger





Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Suspected Rhino Poachers In Mapungubwe Appear in Court

South African National Parks (SANParks) Environmental Crime Investigators (ECI) in partnership with the South African Police Services Special Organised Crime arrested four suspected rhino poachers following poaching of a white rhino on 23 July 2014 in Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Site outside Musina, Limpopo. 

The four were arrested on Friday, 15 August 2014 and appeared in the Makhado Magistrate this morning (18 August 2014).

According to SANParks Acting Head of Communications, Reynold Thakhuli, the case was remanded and suspects will remain in custody until their next appearance on Tuesday 26 August 2014.

The names of the arrested suspects are the following:

- Mr Job Basi Tlou from Kwa Mahlanga, Mpumalanga

- Mr Percy Manengena from Alldays, Limpopo

- Mr Johannes Podile Sematla and Mr Lebala Sematla are from the farm Den Staat, Limpopo neighbouring Mapungubwe National Park

Issued by:
South African National Parks Corporate Communications

Monday, August 18, 2014

On Safari With Mark From 12 August 2014

12 August 2014 – 15 August 2014

Routes: over the past 4 days we have travelled various routes in the south of the Kruger.

General animals spotted: impala, waterbuck, kudu, giraffe, steenbok, common duiker, klipspringer, warthog, hippos, crocodiles, chackma baboon, vervet monkeys, elephant, buffalo and rhino

Highlights: on a afternoon drive we came across a dominant sable bull right next to the road. He was moving slowly south into the newly burnt area and I'm sure he was after the new fresh shoots of grass.

Guests got great photos of this magnificent bull.

Our following morning we heard of a zebra that was killed by 7 lions and went to find these. On our way Robbie called us and informed us of a coalition of cheetah which we found and once again great for the guests to see the fastest animal on land. We moved on and eventually found all 7 lion enjoying their food approximately 5m off the road. With stomachs full they moved into the shade painting and resting.

A massive herd of buffalo was found on camp road and as luck would have it we found the white bull with them. This was great to see as I had informed my guests about the unique sighting of this bull that we had found last week.  

Leopards have given us the run around over the past 4 days and unfortunately I had to say goodbye to some people without being able to show them the illusive cat.

16 August 2014

Route: Numbi tar - circle road - Fiaya loop - Napi - Albaseni - Doispan - Albaseni - Nkambeni - Napi - Nkambeni

General animals seen: impala, klipspringer, common Rheedbuck, steenbok, common duiker, zebra, giraffe, warthog, kudu, hippos, waterbuck, elephant, buffalo's and rhinos

Highlights: On the napi we came across a lioness and a sub adult male lying together on the side of a termite mound. This was great as they were 5m off the road but blended in with the grass so well that many people didn't even stop for these and we could enjoy the sighting all to ourselves.

Once we picked up our one night guests, we drove down albaseni and turned onto doispan. Luck was on our side and we found a male leopard walking parallel with the road and guest could get great photos of him.

17 August 2014

Highlights: We had heard about a potential lion sighting on the Numbi tar but found nothing. Instead we found 3 cheetahs in exactly the same place. These brothers tried to chase impala down but their cover was blown long time before they managed to catch anything.

We headed down napi, only to find another cheetah sighting with a female and her 4 cubs.  

On the H3 approximately 300m from Napi a male leopard was spotted, however very far off in tall grass and not all guests could see it as it moved deeper away.

Great rhino sightings today with one female and her calf which must of been approximately 3 weeks old.

We still in search of a big male lion for my guests that have been with me for 5 days now. Will see what tomorrow provides as we might take a drive down to lower sabi.


More coming soon!!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

On Safari With Dean From 6 August 2014

6 August 2014

Picked up guests from the Mondior Hotel at Emporers Palace and made our way through to Nelspruit, were we changed over vehicles and continued the final leg of the journey to the Kruger National Park aboard one of the open safari vehicles. After arriving at Nkambeni Safari Camp, guests were checked in and given time to enjoy lunch, before leaving on an afternoon game drive. We left camp at 15h30 and made our way up the Numbi Gate tar, getting good sightings of elephant, buffalo, impala and zebra, we decided to make a turn around Shabeni Koppies looking for lion or leopard, but it was very quite with just some daggaboy buffalo's being seen.

Continuing on we came across a rhino bull lying next to the road. After enjoying a great sighting, we made our way onto Shithave Dam getting a good sighting of hippo and waterbuck.

As the time was going, we decided to make our way back to camp and start looking further early the next morning. Guests returned to camp and enjoyed a good dinner before retiring for the night.

7 August 2014

It was up early and after enjoying a good breakfast, we left camp and were not disappointed, as we received a call from Mark of lion around Shabeni Koppies. We made our way in that direction, getting them standing on the lower rock overlooking the road. After a good sighting was enjoyed by all, we made our way down the Napi Road getting great sightings of buffalo, elephant, impala, hyena, zebra, kudu and wildebeest. We turned onto the H3 and drove down to Quagga Pan before hearing about some lions walking in the road south of the pan. We made our way in that direction getting all five males walking in the middle of the road, just with lots of vehicles around them. After enjoying this sighting, we returned to camp for lunch.

After lunch, it was back out on the road to see what we could find. We decided to drive around Fye Loop and got some wonderful sightings of buffalo, elephant, giraffe and hyena. After spending quality time at each of the sightings, we made our way back to camp arriving just before gate closing time. Guest enjoyed a good dinner, before retiring to bed for a well deserved rest.

8 August 2014

This morning, it was out early again, getting good sightings of lots of buffalo, impala, elephant, kudu and giraffe. We returned to camp for lunch, before departing again on another afternoon drive. This drive was a bit on the quite side with still good sightings of buffalo and elephant coming through. We returned to camp at 18h00 hours and again after enjoying a good dinner, it was off the bed for a good rest.

9 August 2014

On this final morning, guests enjoyed breakfast, before we took our leave from Nkambeni and made our way in the direction of Nelspruit, were we changed back into our closed vehicle for the trip back to Johannesburg. Guests returned back to Johannesburg early, due to wanting to visit Pretoria on the Gautrain with the limited time left available to them.

Feedback from guests was that they enjoyed seeing the animals of the Kruger National Park.


More coming soon!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Environmental Affairs Minister leads implementation of integrated strategic management of rhinos in SA

The South African Government will implement integrated strategic management of rhinoceros in South Africa.
On 6 August 2014, Cabinet deliberated on discussing the 2013 rhino population census undertaken in the Kruger National Park and decided on integrated strategic interventions for the management of rhinoceros in South Africa. 
The rhino population in South Africa was rescued from the brink of extinction in the early 1900s. At the time, the rhino population in the Kruger National Park was locally extinct. Since the start of the relocation of 351 rhino from the Hluhluwe-uMfolozi game reserve in KwaZulu-Natal to the Kruger National Park 50 years ago, the Kruger rhino population had increased to between 8 700 and 12 200 in 2010. 
Translocation of 1 450 rhino from the Kruger National Park between 1997 and 2013 has contributed significantly to the growth of the South African rhino population. South Africa is home to 82% of Africa’s rhino, 93% of Africa’s white rhino and 39% of Africa’s black rhino. The reason that white rhino exist is because of this country’s exemplary conservation record. 
As of 2012, South Africa’s rhino population was estimated at 21 000. 
SANParks conducts periodic population surveys. During the latest survey in 2013, conducted by SANParks, the rhino population survey showed that between 8 400 and 9 600 white rhinos are presently living in Kruger National Park. 
It is clear from regular surveys that rhinos are found in different densities across Kruger National Park. Poaching pressure is also uneven across the Park’s landscape. Some areas are relatively free of recorded poaching incidents while others are hard hit by poachers. 
Poaching, natural deaths and the translocation of rhino from the Kruger National Park presently match that of rhino births. This means that the rhino population in the Kruger National Park has stabilised. 

INTEGRATED STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT OF RHINO 

We recognise that poaching is part of a multi-billion dollar worldwide illicit wildlife trade. Addressing the scourge is not simple. That is why we will continue to strengthen holistic and integrated interventions and explore new innovative options to ensure the long-term survival of the species.
It is in this context that Cabinet has decided that we implement these more vigorous integrated strategic management approach aimed at reducing the threat to rhinos and the biological management of the species. This includes strategic translocation, as we have always done.
The integrated interventions adopted by Cabinet are: 
  • Compulsory interventions;
  • The increase in rhino numbers;
  • International and national collaboration and cooperation; and 
  • Long-term sustainability measures. 
Compulsory interventions include pro-active anti-poaching initiatives, the implementation and improvement of actionable intelligence as well as the introduction of responsive legislation and policy amendments to address rhino poaching. Other interventions include continued efforts to increase rhino numbers through, for example, translocation to low risk areas, range- and population expansion. 
New interventions include steps to disrupt crime syndicates. These will be implemented by our Security Cluster.
Long-term sustainable solutions, to ensure the future survival of this key species, include the creation of economic alternatives for communities taking into account the government’s sustainable utilisation policy. 

International Collaboration and Cooperation 

Interventions on international collaboration will further strengthen efforts to address not only rhino poaching, but illegal wildlife trade in general. It is internationally acknowledged that illegal wildlife trade results in devastating impacts on species, ecosystems, sustainable livelihoods, economies, and national and regional security. 
Collaboration between range, transit and consumer States is therefore essential to address this challenge effectively. Several MOUs have already been concluded by the Department of Environmental Affairs. There is, however, a need to accelerate co-operation with key identified countries. 

Bolstering Existing Interventions: 

The government has realized that the work that we are doing requires continued adaptability to meet changing dynamics. 
Actions associated with this include: 
  • Strengthening and persisting with pro-active anti-poaching operations 
  • Continuous joint operations with key neighbouring countries 
  • Improved intelligence gathering and analysis capability; and
  • Improving general protection in the other parks and provincial reserves where rhino are present, with the help of relevant technology
The protection of rhinos inside parks with intensive protection zones, and technology interventions, are being complimented with extensive emphasis on national, regional and international collaboration between law enforcement agencies and the criminal justice system. Greater attention will be given to collating proactive intelligence from multi-agencies – nationally and ideally regionally and internationally. 
In the Kruger National Park and other parks, these interventions are aimed at reducing the threat to rhinos through numerous strategies. These include the creation of an Intensive Protection Zone (IPZ) in the Kruger National Park. Here, several technologically advanced methods are being explored to help anti-poaching teams to intensively reinforce the protection of rhinos. 
In other parts of the Kruger National Park, and in national parks and protected areas nationwide, cooperative and complementary traditional anti-poaching activities help curb poaching. Among the actions taken, has been the introduction of forensic technology, including DNA analysis, in the judicial process to support the successful prosecution of alleged wildlife criminals. 
The number of alleged rhino poachers arrested since the beginning of 2014 has increased considerably compared to 2013. During the 2013/14 financial year, 70 cases were finalised against 140 accused nationwide, with a conviction rate of 61%.
The most successful prosecution to date has been that of Mandla Chauke who was handed an effective sentence of 77-years in prison by the Nelspruit Regional Court. 

Managing Rhino Populations 

The biological management of rhino is the key focus of the Integrated Strategic Management approach. This includes ecological management of rhino habitat, such as water distribution and fire regimes, that are fundamental to the ecological management of protected areas. 
An additional action is the translocation of rhino from areas where rhinos are threatened (e.g. eastern boundary of Kruger National Park), as well as areas where environmental conditions and high rhino densities restrict breeding and increase mortalities.
Our previous experience has shown that biological management, which includes translocations, has resulted in the growth of rhino numbers in South Africa. The complimentary approach of strategic relocations from the Kruger National Park and the creation of rhino strongholds will allow the total rhino population size of South Africa to continue to grow.
Translocated rhinos contribute to the creation of alternative strongholds, which are areas where rhinos can be cost-effectively protected while applying conservation husbandry to maximize population growth.
South Africa is considering a range of rhino strongholds inclusive of South African national parks, provincial reserves, communal areas and private reserves. South Africa also recognizes international opportunities for establishing rhino strongholds in neighbouring countries in Southern Africa.
This approach allows the offsetting of poaching in the short to medium term, while also expanding rhino range and improving overall population size. 
There are several secondary benefits of establishing more rhino strongholds, including:
  • the expansion of conservation-friendly land uses;
  • improved capacity and infrastructure within protected areas, especially where these were hampered through historical constraints on conservation resources; and 
  • To implement South Africa’s sustainable use policies 

Communities

Another key priority is the creation of an enabling environment that fosters alternative economic choices for communities. Communities who are located next to protected areas bear the brunt of exploitation from where crime syndicates recruit potential poachers.
Providing alternative incentives will encourage the recognition of all the values of rhino. In short, the aim is to make a live rhino more valuable to communities than a dead rhino. 
Entering into Memoranda of Understanding with range states is key. The MoU with Mozambique recognises the need of strengthening community development on the Mozambican side as a key intervention. 

Investigations into long-term sustainability solutions

Cabinet authorised the Department of Environmental Affairs in July 2013 to explore the feasibility of possible trade in rhino horn, or not. There is no final decision on this matter as Cabinet has established an Inter-Ministerial Committee and a Panel of Experts to consider all possibilities. 
Stakeholders are invited to register to participate in the process of the Panel of Experts. 
The long term sustainable solutions are linked to the creation of alternative economic opportunities for communities bordering protected areas; creating incentives to promote / facilitate rhino ownership; and the consolidation of rhino population across different land-uses in South Africa including national, provincial, private and communal land.

Conclusion

South Africa, with its large rhino populations, has borne the brunt of rhino poaching. We remain confident that our efforts in implementing the integrated strategic approach will build on our successful track record of conserving rhino. 
We anticipate that challenges will not remain static – thereby necessitating an adaptable rhino management response that changes in response to these challenges. 
South Africa remains committed to the sustainable utilisation of its natural resources. To access the Media Presentation on the Status of the Rhino Population, please visit:
https://www.environment.gov.za/sites/default/files/docs/rhinopopulationstatus_august2014.pdf
  
Enquiries:
Albi Modise
Contact: 083 490 2871 
Issued by:
The Department of Environmental Affairs 
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