South Africa saw a decline in rhino poaching between January and August this year, during which 702 rhinos were poached nationwide, compared with 796 in the same period last year, Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa said.
In the country’s Kruger National Park (KNP) which is the hardest hit by rhino poaching, a total number of 458 poached rhino carcasses were found, compared to 557 in the same period last year, representing a 17.8 percent decline, the minister said in the latest update on progress in fight against rhino poaching.
There may be indications however that the success of anti-poaching efforts in the KNP has led to poaching syndicates shifting operations to other provinces, according to Molewa.
In the period under review, the number of rhinos poached has increased in a number of other provinces in comparison to the same period in 2015, such as KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and the Northern Cape, she said.
However, despite these increases there is still a downward trend in the number of rhinos poached, Molewa said.
The minister also announced a significant increase in the number of arrests of alleged poachers this year.
A total of 414 alleged poachers have been arrested in South Africa since the beginning of the year, of which 177 were in the KNP and 237 for the rest of the country.
A total of 94 firearms have been seized inside the KNP between January 1 and August 31 this year, she said.
South Africa, home to about more than 80 percent of the world’s rhino population, bears the brunt of rhino poaching.
The country declared rhino poaching a national priority crime in 2014.