South Africa: Elephant Poaching Increases, Rhino Poaching Plateaus

South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs has announced the general poaching statistics for the 2017 calendar year. Rhinoceros poaching has decreased slightly to 1,028, but remains dangerously close to the losses that the rhino populations of South Africa can sustain as a whole, without taking into account the larger burden that the less populous Black Rhinoceros must bear. Kruger National Park, which has historically borne the majority of the poaching incursions and been losing the most rhino, has seen another year of decreased poaching. However this indicates that more rhino poaching is taking place deeper inside of South Africa and outside of the Intensive Protection Zones and heavily defended areas where the majority of anti-poaching forces are deployed. Wildlife trade monitoring group TRAFFIC also has an analysis of this data.

For the fourth consecutive year elephants have been illegally killed within South Africa, most inside the flagship Kruger National Park. In 2017 the number of elephants killed again increased, time time to 67 inside KNP and one occurring in another statistical region.

The various criminal syndicates involved in poaching are likely finding their niches, with foreign and smaller syndicates finding lower-risk elephant ivory a worthy goal, while other syndicates, some operating from within South Africa, are finding new targets to acquire the low-risk, high-reward rhino horn. To see how to make a direct impact on poaching, view our list of conservation groups who operate on the front-line of wildlife conservation and anti-poaching and can be assisted by direct tax-deductible donations, volunteering, and other forms of support.

 

Elephants Poached in South Africa (1980-2017)

Sources: South African Population of the African Elephant report by CITES. SAN Parks. ESPU 1999 (unpublished) Ivory Markets of Africa. Elephant poaching on the rise in Kruger by Oxpeckers. ENS-NewswireZA DEA Progress on ISMR February, 2017, and ZA DEA Progress on ISMR January, 2018.

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