International arrests help fight against poaching

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FILE image of a sleeping Black Rhino. Picture: Flickr.com / david pacey

JOHANNESBURG - This year is set to end with a record number of rhino having been slaughtered across the country.

More than 900 rhino have been killed this year, but South African National Parks says international arrests are playing a major role in the fight against poaching.

It&39;s also stepping up efforts to protect the endangered species, of which 946 have been killed across South Africa so far this year.

SANParks spokesman Reynold Thakhuli said 573 of those have been poached in the Kruger National Park.

"However, we are also cushioned by the fact that the arrests have also been quite significant. In the Kruger National Park alone we have arrested 123 people," he said. 

Last year 267 suspects were arrested.

In 2012, 668 were killed, nearly 300 less than this year. But authorities say partnerships with countries like Vietnam, Japan and Mozambique have yielded positive results.

"Already we are seeing movements in Mozambique where people are also getting arrested before they even reach the Kruger National Park. The political will is there in our country and we can only hope that other countries can assist us," Thakhuli said.

Earlier in the year South Africa signed agreements with Vietnam and the People’s Republic of China on cooperation in law enforcement and compliance with international conventions.

But although 330 arrests have been made nationwide, authorities are battling to nail kingpins operating globally.

"We are not yet cracking syndicates but we have arrested people that could lead us to the syndicates. We are unfortunately arresting a lot of foot soldiers," Thakhuli said.

As poachers appear to be stepping up their illegal trade, the South African National Parks says new strategies and methods will be introduced in the next year to fight the scourge.