Poaching is rife in poorer communities
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He was speaking at the launch of ENACT, a crime-monitoring network dedicated to fighting organised crime, to coincide with World Rhino Day last week.
“As long as you have poverty you’ll have crime. And we need to share the wealth in order to at least curb rhino poaching,” he said.
Poachers were often recruited from impoverished communities by wealthy networks, and were lured by payment to kill for rhino horn.
“Unless you create a social and political order in which everybody gets a decent life - which means proper employment, proper incomes, healthcare, education and nutritious food for the children - you cannot abolish crime,” he said.
Jooste admitted that employment opportunities would not completely wipe out poaching, but said it would help to cut down the extent of the problem in South Africa.
More than 1000 rhino were killed in South Africa last year and while poaching is down in the Kruger National Park, it has risen in other parts of the country.
The research co-ordinator of the Centre of Natural Resource Governance in Zimbabwe, Tapuwa Nhachi, compared rhino poaching to drug dealing, saying: “As long as there is someone willing to pay, then the trade won’t stop.”
ENACT is a joint initiative by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), Interpol and the Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime (Giatoc). Funded by the EU’s Pan African Programme for the next three years, ENACT aims to mitigate the impact of transnational organised crime in Africa on development, governance, security and the rule of law.
“This programme is the first of its kind,” said ENACT head Eric Pelser of the ISS. “We’re using a wide range of activities and tools to provide evidence-based responses to the issue to help governments and civil society to work together and develop more effective policies, and implementation,” he said.
ENACT will establish five regional observatories across Africa to monitor poaching trends. The risk of organised crime will be measured by a new index that assesses vulnerability in particular countries. Original research will provide insights into the nature of organised crime and how effective existing responses are.
An incident-monitoring capability and future forecasting will inform longer-term policy responses.
The new data, analysis and resources produced by ENACT will be available to the public on Africa’s first interactive online organised crime hub.
“The ISS has an extensive network across Africa, and shapes policy by providing sound advice that is based on research. We are also the partner of choice for many governments and regional organisations when it comes to training and technical assistance,” said Pelser.
With its convening power, hi-tech infrastructure and operational support, Interpol brings a wealth of expertise that will improve law enforcement responses to organised crime. The programme falls directly within Interpol’s mandate to enable the police to work together to make the world a safer place. Interpol has a National Central Bureau in each of the AU’s 55 member states, which provides ENACT with a continent-wide reach.
“The illicit trade in wildlife is a very serious conservation issue, but has social impacts too,” ENACT researcher Ciara Aucoin said. “Syndicates operate in more than one sector. The trade in wildlife products like rhino horn, pangolin and lion bones supports a supply of guns and drugs and contributes to challenges of corruption at multiple levels.”
South Africa spends R200million annually and employs nearly 450 rangers just to protect the Kruger National Park from poachers.