SA National Parks Annual Report 2020 andAfrica Geographic



SA Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheres, Barbara Creecy:

“Wildlife crime decreased significantly in the Kruger National Park in the 2019/20
financial year. Rhino poaching declined year-on-year by 21.61% and elephant
poaching by 43.75%. Two rhino were, however, poached at Marakele National
Park in January 2020, which is cause for concern. Collaboration between all
government entities to reduce poaching will continue.”

SANParks Board Chair, Joanne Yawitch:

“Towards the end of the financial year, the world was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic
and its resultant economic destruction. For SANParks, the result was mass booking
cancellations in the last quarter. This in turn ushered in an era that is impelling us
to reassess our strategies, re-evaluate our priorities and establish new approaches
to sustain the effective management of our national parks system.
This period has reframed how organisations such as ours will operate into the
future. We look back at the reporting period and acknowledge and celebrate
our accomplishments, more than ever aware that we need to be innovative, agile
and flexible in determining what we must do to better prepare for a hitherto
unimaginable future and a new resource-constrained normal….”

Annual report sections on rhinos:

“Wildlife crime has decreased significantly in Kruger National Park (KNP) according
to YoY incidents reported and poaching statistics. Rhino poaching has declined
by 21.61% and elephant poaching by 43.75%. In the Parks Division, two rhinos
were poached at Marakele National Park in January 2020. This is a concern since
the target was zero rhino poaching in rhino parks outside KNP. The decrease in
poaching in KNP can be attributed to:
• Integrated wildlife anti-crime strategies involving all law enforcement agencies
in South Africa and the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Areas.
• Significant arrests made at high levels of the poaching chain of command.
• The Covid-19 outbreak which restricted movement and strengthened security
on the roads in late Quarter 4.
• Successes with WASS “Meerkat”, a state-of-the-art surveillance technology
deployed in the Integrated Protection Zone (IPZ).
• Cooperation between SANParks’ Special Operations and SANDF Special Forces….”

“303 rhinos were poached.
This is a significant reduction of 21.6%
and 197 animals under the established
target of 500 set for the fiscal year.”

“The positive variance can be attributed to the following:
• Integrated wildlife crime management involving all law enforcement agencies in South Africa and the Greater Limpopo
Transfrontier Conservation Areas.
• Significant arrests at high levels of the poaching chain of command.
• The Covid-19 outbreak which restricted movements and strengthened security on the roads.
• Successes with WASS “Meerkat” surveillance technology deployment in IPZ
• Relatively little known or understood forces at play which may be impacting the national/international syndicates in
terms of supply and demand…

During the year, rhino monitoring and surveys were completed and provided to the
African Rhino Specialist Group for international reporting. SANParks contributes
34.4% and 34.9% respectively of South Africa’s black and white rhino populations.
Primarily due to poaching in Kruger National Park, one black rhino sub-species,
and white rhinos, have declined over the past decade. The 2019 rhino estimates
for Kruger National Park stand at 268 black (95% CI: 191-342) and 3,549 white
(95% CI: 3 152-3 949) rhinos, with births equalling combined natural and poaching
deaths for the first time in five years. This bodes well for future population growth.” [The official report does not note the catastrophic fall in the populations due to poaching – see below – KS]

Africa Geographic

Kruger rhino populations plummet – latest official stats

Posted on January 27, 2021 by Team Africa Geographic in the NEWS DESK post series. 


After years of silence about Kruger National Park rhino populations from South Africa’s Ministry of Forestry and Fisheries and Environmental Affairs, we can now confirm that populations in the Kruger National Park have plummeted to an estimated 3,529 white rhinos and 268 black rhinos.

This represents a population reduction of 67% for white rhinos – from 10,621 in 2011 and 35% for black rhinos – from 415 in 2013.

Note that the Minister’s regular rhino poaching updates over the last years focussed on volumes of rhinos poached and other related statistics such as arrests and park incursions – but did not include population details. Recent updates claimed progress in the war against poaching on the grounds that the volume of rhinos being poached per year has reduced recently. This population update suggests that the population reduction is a significant factor contributing towards lower poaching volumes, although refined tactics and back-breaking work by a dedicated and passionate SANParks’ team and various service providers are arguably also contributory factors.


1. These latest stats (2019) are available on page 96 of the 2019/2020 SANParks Annual Report: download.

2. 2018 stats are available on page 101 of the 2018/2019 SANParks Annual Report: download.

3. Prior year stats are available here: white rhinos and black rhinos.

The 2017 figure appears to be a statistical anomaly

Related stories: Shades of grey and Minister: How many wild rhinos do we have left?

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