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R225m fund to fight rhino poaching

Crime & Courts

Johannesburg - A R255 million fund has been set up to fight poaching in the Kruger National Park, SA National Parks (SANParks) said on Friday.

The joint fund - between the American Howard G. Buffett Foundation, SA Public Benefit Organisation (PBO) and SANParks - would be used to fight rhino poaching in the park, SANParks said in a statement.

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A White Rhino and her calf walk in the dusk light in Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa's North West Province April 19, 2012. Elephant and rhino poaching is surging, conservationists say, an illegal piece of Asia's scramble for African resources, driven by the growing purchasing power of the region's newly affluent classes. In South Africa, nearly two rhinos a day are being killed to meet demand for the animal's horn, which is worth more than its weight in gold. Picture taken April 19, 2012. To match Feature AFRICA-POACHING/ REUTERS/Mike Hutchings (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: ENVIRONMENT ANIMALS)

The money would also be used to test anti-poaching tactics that can be applied in other regions of Africa.

“The effort in Kruger will create an Intensive Protection Zone (IPZ) using sophisticated detection and tracking equipment and infrastructure on the ground and in the air.”

The Kruger National Park was home to over 40 percent of the world's remaining 22,000 rhinos, the largest single population of rhinos in the world.

“Kruger's poaching problem is fuelled mainly by illicit criminal networks in Mozambique, South Africa, and East Asia, but evidence suggests that armed groups elsewhere in Africa derive significant funding from poaching activities.”

SANParks CEO David Mabunda said, “The scale, complexity, and strategic value of this initiative is truly unprecedented for SANParks, and we believe will be transformative in our ongoing efforts to address poaching and the decimation of the rhino population in Kruger National Park.”

A total of 172 rhino have been poached in South Africa since the beginning of the year, the environmental affairs department said on Friday.

“The Kruger National Park remains hardest hit by rhino poaching, having lost 113 rhino since January 1,” spokesman Albi Modise said in a statement.

Eighteen rhino were poached in Limpopo, 17 in the North West, and 11 in KwaZulu-Natal.

A total of 54 people have been arrested in connection with rhino poaching, he said.

Twenty four of the arrests took place in the Kruger National Park and 15 in KwaZulu-Natal.

Modise urged South Africans to report any incidents of poaching.

Sapa

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