PRETORIA: The Department of Environmental Affairs says it will hold a roundtable discussion with all rhino owners in the country. This, according to the department, is part of the efforts to find a solution to curb rhino poaching.
Addressing the media at the department's First National Rhino Conservation Dialogue Workshop held in Midrand, Environmental Affairs Deputy Director-General, Fundisile Mketeni, said rhino poaching had reached an unacceptable level.
"We are now at war," he said, adding that the department would continue to engage with various key stakeholders.
Mketeni said in a bid to protect rhinos, filming would be forbidden at the Kruger National Park.
The objective of the national consultations is to solicit well-considered views on how best to secure the protection, safety and sustainable conservation of the rhinos in South Africa.
Other areas of concern to South Africans, including trade, rhino horn stock pile management, awareness campaigns, international engagements and population management will be considered in this process.
The workshop was convened in collaboration with Mavuso Msimang, who has been appointed by the Department as a Rhinoceros Conservation Issue Manager. Msimang is tasked with convening a series of meetings comprising a broad range of organisations, experts and individuals with a vested interest in the sustainable conservation of South Africa's rhinoceros population.
Also speaking at the briefing was Colonel Johan Jooste of the Hawks, who said they were also looking at engaging countries like China and Thailand.
"We will also be seeking assistance from the professionals," he said.
According to the latest statistics from the Department of Environmental Affairs, the highest number of killings this year was at the Kruger National Park, with137 rhinos - which accounts for more than half of the total rhino killings that have taken place this year.
Mpumalanga has the most arrests with 44, followed by the Kruger National Park with 38; Limpopo had 19 arrests, North West 16, Gauteng 14 and KZN 10 arrests.
Mketeni said plans were underway to host another summit with the various stakeholders in September.
A crime line has been established to improve the level of cooperation with the public as well as make access for would-be informers much easier.
South Africans can report incidents of rhino poaching or any tip-offs that could lead to arrests and prevention of illegal killings to +27 (0)800 205 005.
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