By Bosman Grobler MP, Spokesperson on Economic Development and Tourism:
The DA welcomes the sentencing of two rhino poachers this week to 11 years in prison each.
The two Mozambican nationals who were arrested in the Kruger National Park on 27 October 2014 were convicted this week.
We must strengthen our relationship with our neighbouring countries to stem the tide of poachers flooding the Kruger National Park especially from Mozambique. The lure of easy money has also tempted park rangers and some senior conservation officials to collude with poachers making it very difficult to bring the middleman and kingpin to justice.
The problem has been aggravated in some instances by notoriously lenient punishments for rhino poachers. The number of poachers remain disproportionately low. More robust measures must be implemented.
In the first four months of 2015, 393 rhinos were killed in South Africa, with most killed in the Kruger National Park.
The potential damage to South Africa’s multi-billion rand tourism industry is impossible to quantify, this could make tourists be less keen to go on safari of the ‘Big Five’ should it becomes the ‘Big Four’.
Efforts by government to curb poaching at the Kruger National Park are proving to be challenging. Although there have been a number of arrests and some prosecutions, there is a need for greater public awareness, stiffer sentencing of rhino poachers, and for speaking out against the use of rhino horns.