Kruger National Park once again is the flash point for rising tension. As more rhino poachers are entering the park from Mozambique, the relations between the country and South Africa are straining. Are authorities in Mozambique doing enough to stop poaching?
Kruger had taken down existing fences to allow a “peace park” which links Kruger National Park with game parks in Zimbabwe and Mozambique. This park is the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. The theory is to allow game to freely roam in much the way it would have in the time before man’s intervention. This was supposed to be a protected area for the rhino.
Sadly it has only led to their extinction in Mozambique. The numbers of rhino in the Transfrontier Park had recently shrunk to 15, but now they are all gone. The worst part of this tragedy is they were betrayed by the very people assigned to protect them-the rangers. Thirty rangers are being charged with collusion in the rhino deaths.
In what should be the end of a tragedy, it is likely just another endless chapter. Justice is rarely given. The courts barely serve as a deterrent: while killing a rhino in South Africa can attract stricter punishments than killing a person, in Mozambique offenders generally escape with a fine if they are prosecuted at all.
It’s no wonder South Africa tempers are flaring. South African National Parks (SANParks) chief executive David Mabunda has called the crisis of rhino poaching a “war situation”, with the boundary between Kruger and Mozambique proving to be “the weakest line of defence against incursions”.
So what happens now? Should the fence be put back in place? Will it even help? Surely the poachers will venture further into Kruger to butcher the remaining rhinos. With the vastness of a 20,000-square-kilometer (7,700-square-mile) park with a dense lush terrain and only 339 rangers on foot patrol it’s a difficult, if not impossible task to successfully keep poachers at bay as it stands.
Incidentally the rangers were paid about 2,500 meticais each (about $80) to direct the poachers to areas with elephants and rhinos. (Game rangers are paid between 2,000 and 3,000 meticais ($64 to $96) a month.) A months worth of pay for the extinction of a species…