More than 8000 rhinos have been poached in Africa in the last decade.


In South Africa, the Kruger National Park (19,485 km2) shares a border with Mozambique and has been the target of the highest incidences of poaching activity and heaviest losses experienced in South Africa.


Albi Modise, Chief Director: Communications, Department of Environmental Affairs said 508 rhinos were poached in the first 8 months of 2018 compared with 691 over the same time frame in 2017.  (Figures slightly different to those in the table.) 


Despite an increase in poaching activity in the Kruger National Park (1702 incidents in 2017 and 1873 in 2018 – over the same period), “Rhino poaching numbers in the Kruger National Park also continue to decline. In the period under review‚ a total of 292 rhinos were poached‚ compared to 332 in the same period last year‚” Modise said.

While there has been a slight decline in poaching in the Kruger National Park, other provinces have been targeted, specifically KZN. There has also been evidence of poaching increasing in other African countries that do not have the resources or conservation initiatives that are available in South Africa, to curb this activity.

In her budget speech early in 2018, the late Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa stated that she remained “cautiously optimistic that we are turning the tide on the scourge of poaching.”  

She attributed this decline “to the multifaceted interventions that we are deploying. I would like to extend our sincerest appreciation to the many rangers that patrol our parks and look after our natural heritage for current and future generations.”

“I would like to extend our sincerest appreciation to the many rangers

that patrol our parks and look after our natural heritage

for current and future generations.”

The late Minister of Environmental Affairs
Edna Molewa
Budget Speech 2018



Since the 1970s there has been a ban on international trade in rhino horn under CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species).

In 2017 the domestic sale of rhino horn became legal in South Africa. This is conducted subject to the issuing of relevant permits in terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (NEMBA), its regulations and applicable provincial legislation. Section 57 (1) of NEMBA provides that a person may not carry out a restricted activity involving specimen of a listed threatened or protected species (TOPS) without a permit.

Some believe that making the sale of rhino horn legal could save them by managing the sale of harvested horn with monies gained being reinvested in the protection and reproduction of breeding herds, flooding the market with horn would also in some opinion make the illegal purchase of horn through poaching unprofitable and unnecessary and thereby halting its acceleration.

There is overwhelming concern that this action is very risky and will ultimately add to the scales tipping in the direction of the extinction of our rhino



Vanessa and Vicky Wiesenmaier



Since 2017 there has been a shift with poaching impacting on other species and spreading geographically to other regions where the risks are lower.  Communities outside parks are also being affected as criminal elements and poaching syndicates take advantage of those in poorer rural circumstances.

Besides other species that are also under threat, there has unfortunately also been an increase in elephant poaching activity in the Kruger National Park. This was last of concern in the 1980s when approximately 100 elephants were poached in the KNP in 1981.

Figures for 2016 are 46 poached and 2017 reflects and increase to 67.








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