Ezemvelo: Slaughter continues as hundreds of field ranger posts vacant

7th March 2023


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As shocking new statistics reveal the full extent of critical vacancies within conservation entity, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW), the DA calls for a larger budget allocation for the 2023/24 financial year.

Tasked to maintain law in our conservation areas and prevent poaching, the field ranger vacancy rate now stands at 36.8%. This equates to 354 posts not being filled and boots not on the ground to combat the terrible scourge of poaching in KZN.

Last year alone, more than 220 rhinos were killed, while at least 15 elephants and scores of plains game were taken from parks across the province.

Compounding the situation is KZN’s unenviable reputation for having some of the only rhinos in South Africa that have not been dehorned. Again, budgets and a lack of capacity have all but stopped dehorning operations.

A recent parliamentary reply (view here) to questions by the DA has revealed that although Ezemvelo set an internal goal of 962 field rangers to be employed, International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN) guidelines indicate the entity should have 1 744 rangers on duty. This equates to one ranger for every five square kilometres.

Research quoted in the replies also speaks to: “protected areas have an inadequate number of personnel and field rangers to enable them to deliver on global expectations.” Consequently, Ezemvelo's real ranger vacancy rate tops 65%.

Meanwhile, District Conservation Officers who deal with permit inspections, enforcement, compliance and damage causing animal complaints have also been left high and dry – with the required three rangers to assist the officers not being available.

The long-standing underfunding of Ezemvelo remains a matter of enormous concern and has directly contributed to the entity losing hundreds of highly vulnerable animals annually.

Commercialisation plans that could have generated further revenue have still not seen the light of day. This is while the 2024 budget appears to have a marginal increase.

It is patently unfair to expect the current ranger cohort to face armed poachers in the new bush war being waged in KZN. Likewise, it is unfair for this ANC-run government to expect the public to continue swallowing bitter statistics on poaching each year.

The DA calls on Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) MEC Siboniso Duma to rework the proposed Ezemvelo budget before it is due to be tabled before the legislature later this month. These figures should include the immediate employment of the 17 fully trained rangers who were never employed and the absorption of all newly-trained staff.

Only a boosted budget for conservation staff, coupled with adequate fencing and proper inter-departmental collaboration will stop KZN's poaching crisis.


Issued by Heinz de Boer, MPL - DA KZN Spokesperson on EDTEA

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter




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