The scourge of rhino poaching in the Eastern Cape is getting worse, with an estimated 100 rhinos poached in the province over the last eight years.
The recent senseless slaughter of two critically endangered black rhinoceros at the Great Fish River Nature Reserve has brought the number of rhinos poached in the Eastern Cape to 15 this year, up from 12 killed by poachers last year.
These poachers are not only decimating our natural heritage, they are destroying the very livelihoods of the people of our province.
The Eastern Cape is globally recognized as being one of the most bio-diverse regions in the world, but also has the highest unemployment rate in the country. Tourism is one of the key sectors of job creation in the province and the World Travel and Tourism Council estimates that one in five of all jobs created across the world has been in the tourism sector.
We cannot sit idly by as one of our primary tourist attractions, and the corresponding job opportunities, are stolen from us.
While the police must be commended for their efforts in tracking down and arresting poachers, they are under-resourced, ill-equipped and lack the necessary support from other departments.
More needs to be done!
For this reason, I tabled a motion in the Eastern Cape Legislature last week calling on the provincial government to intensify its efforts to dismantle the criminal syndicates responsible for the decimation of the rhinoceros and to ensure that the relevant conservation authorities are appropriately resourced to do so.
I also challenged the Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism to lead from the front in ensuring all relevant government departments and entities collaboratively implement the Integrated Strategic Management of Rhinoceros Approach adopted by cabinet in 2014.
The Democratic Alliance believes that the protection of our natural heritage and promotion of our tourism attractions is key to growing the economy and enabling more South Africans to have fair access to work opportunities
Andrew Whitfield – DA MPL in the Eastern Cape Legislature
A shortened version of the above appeared in the dAILY Dispatch on the 16th of October 2018