Lowvelder (South Africa)
CROCODILE BRIDGE – Albert Gryvenstein, from Bossies Community Justice (BCJ), criticized the fact that approximately 60 elephants were allegedly driven across the South African border fence during the course of last week, at the confluence of the Komati and Crocodile rivers, through a gap approximately two kilometres in length.
“A reliable source, who wishes to stay anonymous, informed me that elephants guided through the opening by poachers are shot on the Mozambican side. It is not reported on and no-one will give you statistics, because it is done on the other side,” Gryvenstein said.
He stated that neither SANParks nor the government wants to take responsibility for fixing the fence.The communications manager for the KNP, Isaac Phaahla, highlighted that SANParks does not own any of the fences erected at the KNP.
“The fences are owned by the Animal Health Directorate for Disease Control and the missing piece of fence must be repaired by their teams.”
Dr Marietta Bronkhorst, deputy director at the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ (DAFF) animal health division, explained that they are mandated to prevent and control infectious diseases in the country.
“Buffalo in the KNP are permanent carriers of certain diseases, including foot- and-mouth disease,” she said.She emphasised in an official statement that the main aim of DAFF is to prevent the escape of buffalo from the KNP into adjacent communities.
“Officials from the Directorate of Animal Health are involved in maintenance work along the western and southern boundaries, where it serves a disease control purpose,” Bronkhorst said. She added that “the safety and security of all animals in the KNP is the responsibility of SANParks, and any concerns regarding the movement or possible poaching activities must be addressed directly with them.”
Richard Prinsloo, a committee member of African Wild, explained that the Crocodile River is the KNP’s border on the southern side and that SANParks is the owner of the land on which the fence has been erected.
“When it comes to an international border fence dispute, there may be some contention about who is responsible for the repair and maintenance of the fence, the South African or the Mozambican authorities, and I think that is the loophole the government is utilising to escape liability,” he said.
Neither Phaahla nor Bronkhorst could provide Lowvelder with statistics with regards to the number of elephant and rhino which have been illegally poached because of this oversight.