Rhino conservation – Quo Vadis
The seventh and final item on Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa’s budget vote speech in the National Assembly this week dealt with rhino poaching. Notwithstanding that rhino poaching and the illegal trafficking in rhino horn has been declared a priority crime, it appears the Minister sees issues such as a climate resilient economy, waste, chemicals, air quality, biodiversity management and conservation as well as government’s ambitious blue economy programme – Operation Phakisa – more important, at least when it comes to addressing Parliamentarians on how she plans to spend the funds allocated to her department by National Treasury. This was seized on by the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party’s shadow deputy environmental affairs minister, Johni Edwards, in his response to the minister. He asked “do we want rhinos in 20 years?” and said in response to a “yes” that strategy around management and protection of this Big Five species would have to change drastically. “Despite repeated requests to make statistics (on rhino kills and related arrests) available more regularly, no new information has been made public by the Minister since January 2015.