Elephant poaching on the rise – South African National Parks

JOHANNESBURG, June 6 (ANA ) – The South African National Parks (SANparks) has revealed that elephant poaching was on the increase in the northern region of the Kruger National Park (KNP).

Chief Ranger Nicolas Funda on Sunday said this year the park had already lost 22 elephants to poaching, which was the same number at the end of 2015.

“We are expecting double the number this year,” said Funda.

During the SANparks media outing focusing on elephant poaching, Dr Marcus Hoffmeyer darted an elephant to collect blood and tissue samples.

The samples will be stored and used for DNA tests, future references for health checks and to identify the elephant in the event that it is poached.

The elephant was immobilised using a dart with tranquiliser. It took around eight minutes for the animal to get down.

“The elephant will be down for around 30 mins,” said Dr Hoffmeyer.

Funda said there were around 17 000 elephants in the park, but warned the size of the KNP makes it difficult to prevent poaching.

“Severe impact has been on the eastern border of Mozambique for commercial reasons,” said regional ranger, Albert Mashaba.

He said poachers were targeting the section due to the high population of elephant and the closeness to the border.

“The poaching happens in two ways shooting or poisoning.”

Mashaba said poachers worked in groups of three.

“One person is a shooter, the other will pack the tusk and the third will carry their food.”

Mashaba said teams of three made it easier to carry the loot. “The tusks are heavy so it also makes it easy for them to carry.”

In Phalaborwa, Funda said SANparks was being assisted by K9 (a unit that uses sniffer dogs) to track poachers as well as a helicopter based at Skukuza.

In February around 110 vultures died due to eating poisoned elephant meat.

Mashaba also revealed that women were now involved in poaching activities.

– African News Agency (ANA)

Disclaimer: This story is pulled directly from the African News Agency wire, and has not been edited by Mail & Guardian staff. The M&G does not accept responsibility for errors in any statement, quote or extract that may be contained therein.

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