Cape Town - The fence between the Kruger National Park and the adjoining Limpopo National Park in Mozambique will not be restored as part of anti-poaching measures to protect rhinos.
But Mozambique has now secured funding to relocate the seven villages that have remained within the Limpopo park, and a new fence will be erected between these villages and the park’s boundary once they have been resettled to protect the park from incursions.
This was revealed at a media briefing this week by Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa, and follows her meeting with her Mozambican counterparts last month.
The largest section of the original 185km fence between the two parks remains intact. Three sections totalling some 50km were dropped in 2002 to restore wildlife migration and range expansion, following the creation of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, or peace park, on the borders of Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
SA National Parks had asked for the dropped sections to be restored to help counteract the massive rhino poaching onslaught, but Molewa told the media briefing this could only be decided by the heads of state, because of the peace parks’ treaty that was signed in December 2002.
Responding to another question, Molewa also said security ministers from the two countries would be meeting and would discuss the issue of possible “hot pursuit” by South Africa security forces chasing poachers into Mozambique.
The government said in its update on Wednesday that 461 rhinos had been poached in South Africa since the beginning of the year, 288 of them in the Kruger National Park. But the Rhino War News website of Tim Condon yesterday reported that the figure had already reached 473.
The government’s decision to apply to Cites (Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species) for permission to sell the country’s combined 18.5-ton rhino horn stockpile in a once-off sale, has drawn mixed reactions.
The South African Hunters and Game Conservation Association “welcomed and supported” the decision, although chief executive Chris Niehaus said he trusted this was “not too little too late”.
But international conservation group WWF said it “remained unconvinced” that a legal international trade in rhino horn was feasible at this time.
“Much more strategic thinking would be required before a convincing proposal could be made at Cites,” it said. - Cape Argus