In the matter of just a few short hours early this morning, the number of rhinos lost to poaching here in the Eastern Cape this year more than doubled from three to seven.
So far none of the rhino lost to poaching in the Eastern Cape this year have been on state reserves, but this lucky streak will not last. Private reserves are generally far better resourced as far as security is concerned.
This needs to be a warning and a lesson to the MEC of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Mcebisi Jonas, that if we do not jack up our Green Scorpions (the compliance and enforcement unit), we will start seeing astronomical losses in our state reserves once the poaching syndicates target them.
The Green Scorpions are staffed with dedicated rangers, but is severely under-equipped. An immediate concern is the unit’s lack of vehicles. What good is a ranger to a rhino if the ranger cannot follow up on tips, leads and patrol the areas inhabited by rhino? What good is a ranger to a rhino, if he and backup cannot even get to the rhino when a threat has been identified?
I will be submitting parliamentary questions to the MEC to ascertain as to exactly how under-equipped the unit is and how the MEC intends to correct this problem and increase security of the increasingly vulnerable rhino population of this province.