DA calls for urgent rhino task team to be established

Ismail Obaray, MPL

DA Provincial Chairperson

While the extent of rhino poaching in the Northern Cape has been on a lower scale than experienced in the rest of the country, the DA fears that the move of 260 rhino to the province could change this, unless urgent measures to curb rhino poaching are put in place.

It is deeply worrying that government, who is ultimately responsible for the protection and conservation of our rhino, is failing in their duty to protect our rhino population. Of added concern to us in the Northern Cape, is the fact that our provincial department of environment and nature conservation is severely under-resourced and has a shortage of compliance and enforcement officers.

Rhino poaching has accelerated alarmingly in the last few years and unless poaching is significantly reduced, we risk losing our rhino population forever.

The DA therefore recommends that prior to the mass relocation of rhino to the province, provincial government establishes a task team, made up of all relevant law enforcement organisations, as well as public and private stakeholders, to ensure that sufficient measures are in place to protect the rhino. At the same time, funds must urgently be made available to facilitate this process. In fact, we hope that the upcoming budget adjustment appropriation will reflect provincial government’s efforts to conserve our rhino.

The DA this week submitted parliamentary questions to the Northern Cape Department of Environment and Conservation to ascertain the extent of rhino poaching in the Northern Cape. We are also trying to establish whether the province has the capacity to protect our rhino population and whether our very own cross-border parks, such as the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, have cross-border hot-pursuit agreements with Namibia and Botswana.

The DA will continue to probe the relocation of rhino to this province, as well as provincial capacity to protect this animal population from ruthless poachers and money making thugs.