/ 22 April 2023

Creecy: Just five of 87 ranger posts at Kruger Park have been filled

A ranger on patrol in the Kruger National Park.
A ranger on patrol in the Kruger National Park. Photo: Supplied

In one year, the management of SANParks has only filled five of the vacant 87 ranger posts at the Kruger National Park.

This emerged in a recent response to a parliamentary question by Dave Bryant, the Democratic Alliance’s representative for forestry, fisheries and the environment to Barbara Creecy, which followed on from an answer by Creecy last year.

The minister of forestry, fisheries and the environment said that to date, five positions had been filled. “Interviews have been conducted for nine ranger positions and appointments for all nine positions are being finalised,” she said. “Specific filled positions include the following, namely one field ranger sergeant, three field ranger corporals and one field ranger lance corporal.”

Bryant had asked Creecy, too, whether a deadline had been given for the filling of the posts and whether her department had made provision for funding the outstanding posts. Creecy said, “Owing to the recognition of prior learning process, the deadline to fill all the prioritised positions within the ranger services is 30 June 2023.

“Positions are budgeted for and filled when funds become available. Provision is made in the 2023/24 budget for prioritised positions across the entire organisation, not only for ranger positions.” 

In her reply last year, Creecy said that of the 87 vacancies in ranger services, 51 had been vacant for more than five years, and 36 had been vacant for less than three years. “Of the 87 vacancies, 30 exist among the positions of team leaders, storeman, store assistants and general workers.”

According to Bryant, filling the ranger posts will help contribute towards fighting the poaching of wildlife, in particular rhino. “The rhino population of Kruger National Park continues to plummet as a result of the international criminal syndicates smuggling horns into China. 

“It is now essential that more funding be prioritised towards filling the remaining 82 vacant ranger posts as a matter of urgency, to assist in the ongoing fight against rampant rhino poaching and the associated criminal syndicates. There can be no excuse for not filling these critical positions,” he said.

Last month, the Mail & Guardian reported on a new report by Enact, which found that the national park’s most pressing problem is internal corruption. 

This is a symptom of a breakdown in trust, staff cohesion and professionalism in the park, said the report’s author Julian Rademeyer, the director of East and Southern Africa at the Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime.

He said Kruger is severely affected by corruption and violent organised crime, particularly in Mpumalanga, where staff living in surrounding areas are vulnerable to entrenched criminal syndicates.