Durban - More than 150 rhinos have been poached in about two months nationwide.
The national statistics on the scourge, released by the Department of Environmental Affairs, captured an alarming upward trend, as well as an increase in arrests of poachers.
In the department’s previous statistics, released on May 21, a total of 402 rhinos had been poached nationally. The latest total stands at 558. Last year the country lost 1 004 rhinos. So far this year 157 people have been arrested for poaching across the country, 42 more than the previous statistics reflected.
Last year’s total number of arrests amounted to 343.
Closer to home, KwaZulu-Natal has lost as many as 48 animals this year.
Eight more poachers have been arrested in the province, bringing the total up to 40.
Last year, 63 suspects were arrested in KwaZulu-Natal.
The Kruger National Park continues to bear the brunt of rhino poaching in the country, with the highest numbers of animals lost.
Since January, 351 rhinos have been poached in the park.
As at May, this number stood at 266.
The number of rhinos poached in Limpopo this year has risen to 80, while 37 rhinos have been poached in North West.
South Africans and members of the international community are encouraged to report poaching and make tip-offs to the anonymous tip-off lines 0800 205 005, 08600 10111 or Crime-Line on 32211.
Outraged South African Citizens against Rhino Poaching director Allison Thomson said that the large increase over such a small period was “absolutely appalling”.
“We have a massive crisis on our hands and the department needs to be doing more to stop it. We claim that we know how much these animals are worth to us, in terms of tourism, but we are not protecting them,” Thomson said.
She added that while arrests were up both nationally and provincially, they meant nothing if the suspects were not prosecuted.
“Very few of these cases are pursued to the very end, so we need all sectors to play a part.”
“We need someone to do something more.
“If we waste any more time, we will lose all these animals,” Thomson said.