Coast KZN

22 Sep 2020

KZN Ranger reflects on COVID-19 impact on rhino conservation

Lauren Beukes (ECR News) Picture: Pexels - Frans van Heerden

Today marks World Rhino Day – and in KZN, Ezemvelo KZNWildlife says sixty-six of the animals have been poached so far this year compared to 133 in the same period last year.

President of the International Ranger Federation Chris Gallier says the decrease is due to the COVID-19 lockdown. But he says it’s also presented some challenges.

“It has been a huge challenge for people on the ground, on the rangers and the ranger teams to continue their efforts to secure the rhinos. The threat is still there and the people on the ground are working as hard as ever to counter that threat.

But the COVID situation and the lack of tourism and funding has really played a huge role in hampering and constraining a lot of the rhino reserve abilities.   Gallier says as part of the anti-poaching awareness efforts – there needs to be an emphasis on the importance of rhinos to the ecosystem.

“It’s hugely significant in KZN to be aware of the value of the rhino; the tourism value as well and what it symbolises to South Africa and the people. Also just to be aware of the efforts that are going in to conserve these animals, black and white rhinos,” he said.

The Department of Environmental Affairs says it’s invested technical support and other resources to key initiatives to curb poaching.