On behalf of the South African people we, the members of Africa Wild, table a Vote of No Confidence in Dr David Mabunda (CEO of SANParks) and the SANParks Board of Directors.
In 2012, 668 rhinos were poached in South Africa, 428 of which were poached in SANParks’ reserves, under the leadership of Dr Mabunda.
Four SANParks officials (two field guides, a field ranger and a traffic official) were arrested last year on suspicion of poaching rhinos in the Kruger National Park. The lax security at the entrance gates to the Kruger Park, and the apparent lack of control over who is in the staff villages at any given time has been under much scrutiny, and lends weight to the many rumours that some of the poaching is being conducted from the inside of the Kruger Park.
"Although it is disappointing to imagine that conservation staff were directly connected to rhino crime, such a development was not entirely unexpected as historically local guards have been known to be involved in poaching or providing information to known poachers. Given the challenges associated with locating and shooting rhinos, it is widely believed that insider information is critical to the successful undertaking of many rhino poaching events." states the TRAFFIC report (Milliken, T. and Shaw, J. 2012. The South Africa – Viet Nam Rhino Horn Trade Nexus: A deadly combination of institutional lapses, corrupt wildlife industry professionals and Asian crime syndicates. TRAFFIC, Johannesburg, South Africa.)
In 2012 SAParks staff members went on strike between 3 February and 30 April and it is not known whether the absence of 248 field rangers has influenced poaching levels.
As of 7 February 2013, 84 rhinos have already been poached, 61 of which have been poached in SANParks’ reserves, still under the leadership of Dr Mabunda.
SANParks' highly laudable rhino conservation record has come to an end and has been altered irretrievably with the escalating poaching disaster; at this point rhino numbers start declining.
In SANParks' Annual Performance Plan for 2012/2013, it was stated that the % of poaching relative to the population birth/growth rate should not exceed 2.5% for rhinos. However, how is it known if that target has been achieved if no rhino census has been done? SANParks' rhinos don't need creative bookkeeping, but improved protection and monitoring.
Dr Mabunda and his board of directors have been unable to make any headway against poaching, and pose a threat to the continued existence of our rhino population. They have the necessary resources at their disposal but lack the skills to manage those resources. We have lost trust in their ability to bring this scourge to an end and, as a consequence, Africa Wild calls for Dr Mabunda's immediate removal from office, and the appointment of a more competent and less politically-minded individual to head a dynamic and strictly conservation-oriented effort to protect our national and global wildlife heritage.
For more information please visit http://www.sagr.co.za/forum/
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