Lockdown throws lifeline to SA’s rhino, but poachers are poised

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Lockdown throws lifeline to SA’s rhino, but poachers are poised

There are fears the momentum could be lost as more people ‘poach for the pot’ amid Covid-19 desperation

Night news editor

Not a single drop of blood was shed in the Kruger National Park’s “intensive protection zone” in April – the first time in 10 years that a month had gone by in the poaching-wracked area without a rhino being killed.

As SA went into coronavirus lockdown from March, movement was restricted. While this was primarily to prevent spiralling new infections, it brought a perhaps unexpected boon for SA’s wildlife: poachers were kept at bay, and not just in the Kruger Park. At KwaZulu-Natal’s Hluhluwe/iMfolozi Park, and at many other reserves across SA, poaching was drastically reduced under lockdown.

In fact, according to the environment, forestry and fisheries department’s latest statistics, rhino poaching was down by half compared with the first half of 2019...

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