In 2022, 124 rhinos were killed in the Kruger National Park. No rhinos were poached in any other national park. The number of rhinos poached in the Kruger National Park represents a 40% decrease compared with those killed for their horn 2021. 

The provincial and national breakdown for 2022 (in comparison to 2021 and 2020) is as follows: 

In releasing these stats early in February 2022, Barbara Creecy, the South African Minister of of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment stated that relentless pressure has forced rhino poachers to abandon national parks in 2022. She went on to say that South Africa’s relentless fight against rhino poaching in the Kruger Park and other national parks saw a decline in poaching numbers across the country. 

Unfortunately, the poaching threat has shifted to KwaZulu-Natal, which lost 244 rhino to poaching last year. Of these, 228 were killed in provincial parks and 16 in privately owned reserves. The Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park was specifically targeted. 

In total across the country private rhino owners lost 86 rhinos. The number of rhinos killed in the past year represents a slight decline (of 3) compared to the 451 rhinos poached in South Africa in 2021. 

“The steady decline in rhino poaching in national parks is related to the relentless war that has been waged by our fearsome anti-poaching machinery as well as a comprehensive dehorning programme,” said Creecy. 

“This year’s outcome shows that collaboration between conservation authorities, the South African Police Services, revenue authorities and international agencies works,” the Minister added. 

“We believe that if provincial authorities in KwaZulu-Natal follow our model, they will be able to significantly curb rhino poaching in their provincial parks before it is too late,” said Minister Creecy. 

In 2022 several successful arrests and prosecutions were recorded, adding weight to the integrated work of the law enforcement agencies, including the SAPS, Hawks, SANParks, Environmental Enforcement Fusion Centre, the Environmental Management Inspectorate or Green Scorpions, customs officials, provincial park authorities, and the National Prosecuting Authority. 

A total of 132 arrests were affected during 2022 for rhino poaching: 23 in the Skukuza area in Mpumalanga, 49 in KwaZulu-Natal and the balance in Limpopo. 

The recent focus on money laundering and international co-operation with other law enforcement authorities saw the arrest of 26 rhino horn traffickers and 13 people for money laundering and bribing of rangers. 

During 2022, the NPA in collaboration with the DFFE established a Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Environmental Working Group (EWG). The purpose of this group is to foster closer collaboration between the provinces working on wildlife trafficking cases and helps identify repeat offenders moving around the country. 

To access a recording of Minister Creecy’s statement, click below: 

The audioThe video

In response to the Minister’s report Peter Borchert, editor of The Rhino Review, put out the article: South Africa’s Rhino War—real progress or simply marking time? This makes for an interesting read. 

In it he states that “On the surface, Minister Creecy’s story seems to hold some encouragement in the decade-and-a-half war that has seen the butchering of at least 9,786 Black and White Rhinos in South Africa—last year, 448 rhinos were killed for their horns against 451 in 2021. 

“While the loss of rhinos didn’t rise, let’s face it, staying pretty well the same is hardly a statistic worth crowing about. And, yes, although a 35 percent drop in the poaching rate in the Kruger National Park is good news, in the country’s Kwa Zulu-Natal reserves, particularly in the Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park, the rate soared by nearly 140 percent from 102 poaching deaths in 2021 to 244 in 2022. Clearly, the forces of poaching are mobile and adaptive, attacking where the defenses are perceived to be weakest,” he added.