During 2017, a total of 502 alleged rhino poachers and 16 alleged traffickers were arrested nationally bringing the total figure to 518. This represents a decrease from 2016 when a total of 680 poachers and traffickers were arrested.
Arrests within the Greater Kruger National Park itself did however increase in 2017. The number of arrests of alleged poachers totalled 446 – this comprised 189 arrested inside the Kruger National Park, and 257 adjacent to the Park.
This represents an increase on the 2016 numbers when a total of 417 were arrested inside and adjacent to the Park.
A total of 220 weapons were seized in rhino-related incidents both inside and outside the Kruger National Park in 2017. Unfortunately and regrettably during 2017, 21 officials were arrested for being involved in poaching activities. The internal corruption in this scourge is a sad reality and needs to be further addressed.
In line with the national government’s commitment to root out corruption, SANParks has instituted a programme of integrity testing throughout the organisation, to support ongoing anti-poaching efforts. The same philosophy has been adopted by the SAWC and by GKEPF (Greater Kruger Environmental Protection Foundation) which encompasses most of the Private reserves bordering the Kruger Park.
Between 1 April 2017 and 31 December 2017, the Hawks arrested 16 level three to four (courier/local buyers and exporters) wildlife traffickers of South-East Asian, South African, Mozambican, Zimbabwean and Kenyan origin – and confiscated 168,46kg of rhino horn. Given the complexities and sophistication of these syndicates, this figure is regarded as a significant achievement. These cases were linked to rhino poaching incidents in KZN and Limpopo and the arrests were further linked to incidences in Swaziland and Mozambique. Ten of these cases involved end-users from Asian countries.