According to South African National Defence Force (SANDF) Brigadier General Koos Liebenberg, incidents of poaching have dropped significantly since the start of Operation Corona in the Kruger National Park in March this year.
Last year, 333 rhino were shot dead in the park, which led to authorities turning to the SANDF for help. Liebenberg said that there were 40 rhino poaching cases in March, which dropped to 30 in April, 15 in May and two in June. So far this month no rhino have been killed.
The Kruger National Park was formed on 31 May 1926, when the National Parks Act was proclaimed and the Sabie and Shingwedzi Game Reserves were merged into the Kruger National Park. The park surface area is 7,580 miles squared and home to Africa’s big 5 game – Lion, buffalo, leopard, elephant and rhino. The Park forms part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, a peace park that links Kruger National Park with the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe, and with the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique.
The increased demand for ivory from the middle and Far East as well as bush meat to feed isolated communities in Zimbabwe and Mozambique has led to an increase in poaching activity in the parks. In South Africa poachers have moved high tech with GPS tracking, helicopters and covert communications with on-the-ground poaching teams.
The park is an United Nations Education and Scientific Organisation (UNESCO) heritage site and according to a 2009 mammal population count, is home to some 180 000 mammals as well as thousands of reptiles like crocodile and countless fish species.