The South African rhino poaching epidemic continues unabated as the latest figures released today show that the killings have surged through the 600 barrier and now number 618 dead rhinos so far this year. That is an increase of 60 rhinos since the last figures published on July 11th.
Looking back on the figures for July it shows a devastating loss of the rhino in South Africa – 122 of the creatures have been killed this month.
It could have been worst as the first 11 days of the month say 62 kills. another 60 rhino have been killed since 11th.
The latest stats have been released on World Ranger Day at a ceremony dedicating a monument to rangers in SANPARKS that have been killed trying to protect wildlife from the poachers.
The Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms Barbara Thomson, officially unveiled the Ranger Monument at the Kruger Gate in the Kruger National Park on 31 July 2014, as part of the World Ranger Day celebration.
The Monument acknowledges the contribution of past, present and future rangers to conservation in South Africa, and the world. The event marked the seventh anniversary of World Ranger Day held in memory of rangers who have lost their lives in the line of duty and to honour those who risk their lives daily to protect endangered species and other natural resources.
“Nowhere is the importance of Rangers more clearly illuminated than in the fight against rhino poaching,” said Ms Thomson.
“As government we need to boost the morale of rangers by showing them their battle against poachers and other environmental crimes are not in vain. We want to tell you that we understand and fully appreciate that rhino poaching goes much deeper than mere physical security. Social and economic problems such as unemployment and poverty are part of the problem.
“In other words, it is a multi-dimensional problem that extends beyond provincial borders, countries and government departments, and we are committed to develop a multi-dimensional combat strategy in support of your efforts.”
“The rangers of the Kruger National Park, like the Leadwood, have survived for more than 100 years. Through their strength of spirit, their resilience to the hardships and dangers they face almost daily, the rangers will survive and continue to stand tall,” said Ms Thomson, referring to the Leadwood tree. The tree signifies longevity in local culture and is an iconic tree of the Lowveld savannahs.
The new monument highlights the two ‘life lines’ of a hand. The main life line represents the ranger’s lives which are dedicated to serve the broad ideals of conservation. The smaller life line illustrates the Stewardship responsibility of all people, particularly the ranger’s life as defending and conserving all creatures and natural places.