Government must make rhino protection a provincial funding priority

By Ismail Obaray MPL DA Northern Cape Spokesperson of Environment & Nature Conservation:

The DA is calling on the provincial government to make adequate financial resources available to ensure that the Northern Cape becomes a true safe haven for the endangered rhino population. This comes amidst the ongoing process to relocate over 200 rhino from the Kruger Park to the Northern Cape.

I have today written a letter to MEC of Finance, John Block, (see letter attached) requesting that Provincial Treasury factors in additional funding for the Northern Cape Department of Environment and Nature Conservation in the adjustment appropriation bill that is due to be tabled later this year. If the DA were in government we would ensure more funding was allocated to the department and entities now responsible for helping protect this iconic species.

Compliance and enforcement officers play a vital role in combating environmental crimes and in turn keeping poachers and smugglers at bay.

An increased rhino population in the Northern Cape will necessitate a greater demand for escalated policing by compliance and enforcement officers to ensure the protection of this endangered species.

Currently, however, the department has a dire shortage of compliance and enforcement officers – in fact, there are not even enough compliance and enforcement officers to take up permanent posts at our borders. This is largely due to budgetary constraints. The DA also calls for internships to train youth for future roles in compliance and enforcement, roles that are currently vacant to the detriment of our environment.

Year on year, the Northern Cape Environment and Nature Conservation Department, tasked with the critical mandate of protecting and conserving our environment, receives less than 1% of the provincial budget. This is a clear indication of how low down on the provincial agenda the preservation of our environment lies.

If the provincial government really cares for our environment, they will do everything in their power to save the rhino from extinction. This includes making rhino protection a provincial priority and guaranteeing that the Environment and Nature Conservation Department annually receives enough funds to carry out its core responsibilities.