Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa has urged communities, particularly those adjacent to the Kruger National Park, to be vigilant and report any suspicious activities that may be linked to rhino poaching.
Edna Molewa says communities must play a role in preventing rhino poaching. Image: GCIS
"Communities living in close proximity to the Kruger Park are often aware of the plight of the rhino and all the steps being taken by the government and institutions such as SANParks, as well as the private sector to combat the scourge of rhino poaching," said Molewa.
Speaking at the first international World Wildlife Day, on Monday (3 March), at the Kruger National Park, Molewa appealed to communities to join hands and work together to fight these criminals. She added that the country is being robbed of heritage by criminals with no respect for the nation.
The Minister was joined by Mbombela Mayor, including members of the Mdluli Tribal Authority, Matimbela, Nkambeni, Daatjie, Hoxani and Msogwaba Tribal Authorities and learners at Pretoriuskop to celebrate the international World Wildlife Day.
The gathering is in line with the adoption at the 40th anniversary of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 2013 of a resolution that 3 March of each year be celebrated as World Wildlife Day. World Wildlife Day
The United Nations General Assembly on 20 December last year adopted this Resolution making 3 March a day which the world can celebrate the many beautiful and varied forms of fauna and flora.
The Department of Environmental Affairs, as the national management authority for CITES in South Africa, was requested by the CITES Secretariat to observe and raise awareness of World Wildlife Day in an appropriate manner, in accordance with national priorities.
Molewa emphasised that the objective of the celebration is not only to honour the many beautiful and varied forms of fauna and flora, but to raise awareness of the multitude of benefits that wildlife provides to people and includes stepping up the fight against wildlife crime.
"Wildlife crimes, including rhino poaching, are among the most significant syndicate-led crimes of our time. These crimes rank among drug trafficking, arms smuggling and human trafficking as the top syndicate crimes in the world today," she said.
"South Africa is not immune to the challenges posed by crimes that have a significant impact on the environment and ultimately the economy of our country through the effects they have on tourism and job creation," she added.
She said that solutions need to be sought in partnership with stakeholders in the rhino and wildlife industries including communities, the government and enforcement and security authorities in South Africa.