SANParks boosts security with R250m donation
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Johannesburg - The South African National Parks has used the R250 million donated by American philanthropist and businessman Howard G Buffet to help boost measures to protect the Kruger National Park (KNP) from poachers.
“The park has upgraded their protection by upgrading ranger points by enabling them to operate helicopters, house the K9 dogs and the training of the rangers, making sure that their equipment is up to scratch,” Major General Johan Jooste, head of the anti-poaching operations, said on Monday.
KNP has been described as being the size of Israel, yet it only has four helicopters protecting the entire park. To date the park has just around 8000 rhino and 17 000 elephants, with about 1.7 million visitors a year.
“Poaching decreased slightly in 2015 and the organisation hopes that the figures will continue to decrease over time,” Chief Ranger, Nic Funda said.
Last month a Regional Ranger was arrested for being involved in a poaching syndicate. According to Funda, the regional ranger was earning around R500 000 per annum which is about R R41 000 per month.
Funda and Jooste said that greed and poverty were the main drivers of poaching. “Less than 10 rangers have been arrested for being involved in poaching activities like selling park entry tickets and shooting an animal,” Funda said. He added that Integrity tests (polygraph testing) as well as lifestyle audits were done when recruiting staff in order to ensure that they were employing the right people.
As of April 2015 the KNP has been using an application called cmore, which allowed field rangers and certain officials to view the activities happening around the entire park 24 hours. “The rangers are able to view the activities via their cell phones at all times,” said Operational Analyst, Charmaine Swart.
Swart said that the application made their lives easier because it allowed them to capture information that may be needed in for poaching investigations.
The application which is being viewed at the KNP airport on a big screen television indicated where a poacher was walking, where there was a carcus of an animal as well as when it was found and the cause of death.
African News Agency