Crime-busting unit, the Hawks, has warned that 556 rhinos could be killed by the end of the year if current poaching trends persist.
“The number is based on formulae that we work on with the daily rate of rhino that are killed and then we forecast to see what figure we will stand on by the end of the year,” Colonel Johann Jooste said in Midrand.
“It might be that we have some significant arrests and it would affect the forecast number ... But the figure is just based on the daily rate.”
Jooste was briefing reporters at the first National Rhino Conservation Dialogue.
On Monday, the environmental affairs department announced that a total of 227 rhinos had been killed illegally since the beginning of the year.
A total of 148 arrests had been made in the same period.
Of the rhino killed, 137 were from the Kruger National Park and in Limpopo 31 rhino were killed.
The dialogue was the first of many to come, said deputy director-general of biodiversity and conservation at the environmental affairs department, Fundisile Mketeni.
“If you listen to the debate around rhino you have issues around security, you have issues around trade, you have issues around numbers ... This dialogue will help us on the issue of trade,” said Mketeni.
“At the end of the dialogue the government would be able to pronounce on trade ... This dialogue will help us review the Rhino Security Strategy.”
Mketeni said the dialogue would help the department deal with national, regional and international issues around rhino poaching. - Sapa