South African National Parks (SANParks) is increasing surveillance at Kruger National Park (KNP) entry gates as part of the festive season anti-crime prevention.
SANParks said in a statement on Thursday that these measures are called for because bofy the recent spike in poaching, especially snaring and poisoning which is indiscriminate and kills any animal that gets in contact with those elements. The statement did not mention the murder of a German tourist near Numbi Gate in October.
SANParks said there will also be increased spot checks of vehicles inside the park to check for amongst others, park offences such as contraband and verification of identities booking receipts of occupants inside vehicles. Other technologies being implemented include vehicle numberplate recognition, remote vehicle monitoring, radar surveillance as well as night flying with specialised infrared cameras.
The Acting KNP Managing Executive Dr Danny Govender said:
“In addition to the normal ranger and security services patrols as well as the dedicated dog units with tracking hounds being deployed on poacher tracks; these will be enhanced during the festive season. The SANParks Environmental Investigative Unit (ECI) which has been successful in operations outside of the KNP will be joining hands with other law enforcement agencies in tackling criminals in adjoining villages. These operations will be targeted at those supplying rifles, ammunition, and recruiting poachers to commit crime. These are also the next level of poachers who transport and sell onward to their buyers. The operations are assisted by community members who often give good tip offs to authorities which lead to arrests and convictions.”
The ongoing collaboration with the Mozambican authorities is continuing to yield positive results, said SANParks, with some of the elusive kingpins now behind bars. There are regular meetings at the boundary to assess the threat from Mozambique and to implement plans to mitigate against the threat. The sharing of intelligence has resulted in successful arrests of poachers before they kill an animal.
There has been an increase in snares inside the park which have resulted in serious injuries to animals which necessitated the intervention of Veterinary Wildlife Services. The SANParks Honorary Rangers have also been hard at work every weekend removing up to a thousand snares from the boundary which could have resulted in the loss and injury to animals. Govender said:
“Our data on the rhino poaching has indicated a downward trend and we want to keep it that way, we have introduced smart camera technology systems at most hotspots; it has helped in the apprehension of suspected poachers and the confiscation of high calibre hunting rifles and ammunition. Our dedicated Rangers are also motivated and encouraged by the recent successful arrests and convictions of poachers. We will not let our guard down as the battle to safeguard our natural heritage is far from over.”
These measures have already yielded success and in the last quarter, from July – September 2022 a total of ten (10) suspected poachers were apprehended and six (6) firearms confiscated, said SANParks.