Call for northern KZN residents to prevent poachers from wrecking ‘fragile’ economy

Elephants at a watering hole in Tembe Elephant Park in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

Elephants at a watering hole in Tembe Elephant Park in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

Published Jan 22, 2023


Durban — DA KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs spokesperson Heinz de Boer has said that poachers must not be allowed to cripple KZN’s rural economy.

De Boer said that the DA urges residents to support the northern KZN region’s tourism businesses and prevent poachers from wrecking the region’s already fragile economy.

“Following the attack on a tourist boat on the Jozini Dam last week, the DA has enlisted the help of many high-ranking provincial and national conservation and policing officials. It is believed a heavily armed group of men fired shots at the boat before opening fire on an already decimated herd of elephants,” De Boer said.

“Poachers cannot be allowed to stifle and cripple an already hard-hit tourism economy. Visitors to the Jozini region are encouraged to support the ecotourism sector surrounding the area.”

In a video of the shooting, which the Daily News has seen, people on a tour boat were repeatedly told to lie flat down and to stay down. When it seemed that the crisis had been averted, the people were asked if they were okay. However, they remained down.

One person could be heard saying that the gunmen were shooting the elephants.

De Boer added that a recent oversight of the various tourism facilities on the western shores of the dam indicates that an intricate security network is in place.

These security and anti-poaching measures have been in place for years. They are an indication of the commitment private landowners have made to ensure visitors’ safety on a large tract of the dam’s western shores.

“While the recent shooting has highlighted the long-standing battle for wildlife conservation, the public has the power to strengthen anti-poaching efforts by supporting local ecotourism businesses,” De Boer said.

He said the DA would continue the fight against poaching and ensure that this issue is prioritised at the highest levels.

“Our natural heritage must be protected.”

Meanwhile, recently, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife said it had intervened in the long-standing human-wildlife conflict caused by the elephants that came from the private Pongola Game Reserve East.

At least 69 elephants roam Ezemvelo’s Pongola Nature Reserve.

“The ongoing human-wildlife conflict in that area has contributed to the rise of elephant poaching incidents,” said Ezemvelo spokesperson Musa Mntambo.

Daily News