By Dianah Chiyangwa
JOHANNESBURG – The Kruger National Park has been under heavy siege from poachers for the greater part of the last decade, despite a marked decrease in related crimes lately.
Poaching and illegal wildlife trade have continued to wreak havoc in the wildlife sanctuary, threatening authorities’ efforts towards both conservation and sustainable use. The rhino remained the most-targeted animal specie in most of the protected areas.
During the last three years, poaching-related crimes decreased – 2018 became the third year of the downturn, albeit with 769 reported incidents. With 68 incidents lower than the same period last year, 318 rhinos killed countrywide during the first 6 months of 2019 remains a worrying figure.
“Goose, as she is known, is given a home in the Kruger National Park. Usually, officials at the Kruger National park do not name animals because they are a free range, but this black rhino – brought here after poachers shot her on the right foot, was given a name,” explained Isaac Pahla, General Manager for Communication and Marketing at the Kruger National Park. The rhino’s right foot was still strapped in a cast.
“The reason she was brought in is mainly because she is a black rhino and black rhinos are very rare and endangered. She is a female and is expected to breed more calves and that females are more precious in the animal kingdom. The other reason was for the poaching sketch because South African National Parks (SANParks) officials wanted to see how she’s responding to treatment.
“It’s been year since she was brought in and since then, they (SANParks) have created a cast for her and there has been a change every second month. As she is on her way to getting healed, officials are not sure whether she will go back to the veld again, but they indicated they could create space for her to start breeding again.”
Mr Pahla said the Kruger National Park, which had 400 animals about two years ago, had seen the numbers shoot to 700, although poachers kept shooting at rhinos without consideration of whether they were black or white.
Catherine Dryer, a Black Rhino Specialist at the Kruger National Park, responsible for monitoring the numbers of black rhinos, said since Goose was matured enough to breed, their goal was for her to give them at least one calf before she returned to the wild.