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SA, Moz agree to cross-border hot-pursuit operations against rhino poachers

2014-08-12 16:31

Pretoria - Police units are pursuing rhino poachers into Mozambique, National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega revealed on Tuesday.

"Yes, we have a hot pursuit agreement, meaning that when... somebody crosses the border, we do have an agreement with Mozambique to follow through," she told journalists in Pretoria and Cape Town.

The border referred to is the one between the Kruger National Park and Mozambique.

"[Hot pursuits] are happening... They happen all the time," Phiyega said, declining to give details of how many such operations had taken place.

Asked what units were involved, she said these included the SA Police Service special task force, as well as its air wing, dog unit, and forensic unit.

"The hot pursuit agreement allows us to follow poachers across our own border," Phiyega said.

The briefing was called to inform the media on government's latest plans to protect the country's rhino from poaching.

Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said between January and 6 August this year, a total of 631 rhino were killed by poachers, 408 of them in the Kruger National Park.

She said rhino along the eastern boundary of the park would be moved to so-called strongholds outside the flagship reserve to protect them from poachers.

For their safety

"South Africa is considering a range of rhino strongholds, inclusive of national parks, provincial reserves, communal areas and private reserves," Molewa said.

She said her department was also looking at moving some rhino out of the country.

"Part of the translocation will include the Southern African Development Community, the SADC area in particular... We have already started discussions with Botswana, we are working with Zambia, we are working with other countries, but more intensely those two in particular."

SA National Parks large mammal ecologist Sam Ferreira said up to 500 rhino could be removed.

"If you want to give rhino a chance, you remove them from places where they have a high probability of being killed.

"The kind of numbers are based on sound ecological models... you can remove rhino up to roughly about 500..." he said.

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