South Africa pays tribute to rangers in commemoration of World Ranger Day

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SKUKUZA, SOUTH AFRICA MARCH 18(SOUTH AFRICA OUT): SANParks ranger, police and members of the SANDF during an anti-poaching demonstration on March 18, 2015 at the Kruger National Park in Skukuza, South Africa. Since the deployment of the army on the park in 2011, there have been less poachers entering from the eastern border of the park which lies closest to Mozambique. (Photo by Herman Verwey/Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: SANParks ranger, police and members of the SANDF during an anti-poaching demonstration at the Kruger National Park in Skukuza, South Africa. (Photo by Herman Verwey/Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

South African Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Barbara Creecy thanked rangers for protecting wildlife in the country on Saturday in commemoration of World Ranger Day.

“In the battle to conserve our wildlife and halt poaching, it is our rangers who remain at the forefront, putting their lives on the line daily to conserve our environment and vulnerable species despite the additional risk of contracting COVID-19,” said Creecy.

Creecy said the collaboration between the rangers, police, National Prosecuting Authority and other stakeholders is bearing fruits from January to June 2021, with 40 alleged poachers arrested within the Kruger National Park. A total of 125 people have been arrested for rhino poaching and rhino horn trafficking across the country in the past six months.

Numerous confiscations of rhino horn have also taken place since January, both within the country as well as at OR Tambo International Airport. A total of 14 cases have been finalized since the start of the year with a verdict, representing a 93 percent conviction rate.

“It is clear that the multi-disciplinary, integrated approach to investigating illegal wildlife trade is bearing fruit and that effective collaboration with critical role players remains key to our success,” said Creecy.

She said the government is aware that criminal elements within the society continue to take advantage of the socio-economic pressures and drive demand for illegal wildlife products. She promised that the department will work with a number of communities, NGOs and donors to continue with various community developmental programs.

“The only long-term sustainable solution to wildlife management and conservation is to ensure communities living on the outskirts of our national parks benefit from tourism and other opportunities,” she said.

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