South Africa’s ‘Home of the Rhino’ suffers the highest ever recorded poaching death toll in 2022

Jamie Joseph, Saving the Wild: South Africa’s ‘Home of the Rhino’ suffers the highest ever recorded poaching death toll in 2022 – this is the title that Minister of Environment Barbara Creecy should have published in her annual report yesterday. Instead she went out with this ridiculous headline dripping in rhetoric and deflection: Relentless pressure forces rhino poachers to abandon national parks in 2022

The tragedy here is that the press worldwide picks up on this rhetoric as if it is truth, repeats it, and then saving rhinos is no longer a global issue. And so I am going to set the record straight for anyone who cares to listen.

Minister Creecy’s full statement can be found here: 

CREECY SAYS: In 2022, 124 rhinos were killed in the Kruger National Park. No rhinos were poached in any other national parks. 

JAMIE SAYS: Why suddenly put an emphasis on “national” parks as opposed to ‘state (government) run’ parks? Beyond Kruger, I cannot even think of these ‘national parks’ in South Africa that have rhinos…it’s that irrelevant by numbers. 


Both are South African STATE RUN parks. Now for various reasons, HiP does not get referred to as a ‘national park’, but the point is that HiP is a state run park, just like Kruger, and last year was the worst rhino poaching year ever in HiP in the province of KwaZulu Natal (KZN), known globally as the ‘Home of the Rhino.

Photo © Jamie Joseph | Saving the Wild

Rewind to Saving the Wild’s expose published in October 2017 titled Rhino Massacres…Can Ezemvelo handle the truth?’

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (HiP), once a global conservation success story for bringing rhinos back from the brink of extinction in the fifties, is fast becoming a graveyard and failure of epic proportions under the helm of (state run) Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife management. (as opposed to state run SANParks in Kruger)

Saving the Wild exposed horrific internal corruption in this expose, and what followed was a shakedown where these traitors were removed from the park, including the big boss….and then poaching plummeted. Here is the KZN PROVINCE DEATH TOLL by years:

2017: 222

2018: 142

2019: 133

2020: 93

2021: 102

2022: 244

Dehorning right across the KZN province also contributed to the drop in poaching, but really when we talk about death toll in KZN, the vast majority of poaching happens inside the state run HiP. Kruger continued to get smashed by poachers throughout this 2018 to 2021 decreasing period, but now with so few rhinos left in Kruger, poachers have no choice but to circle back to HiP, which continues to be run by grossly corrupt state run Ezemvelo. 

And not once in this entire report does Creecy use the word ‘corruption’.

South Africa does not have a rhino crisis. South Africa has a corruption crisis – fix the corruption and the poaching will plummet. A significant game changer for the drop in rhino poaching in Kruger last year was the elimination of corruption within its ranks – and not by choice because SANParks executive management didn’t even know the Hawks Police were preparing a massive sting operation. I knew, I had been given the heads up months earlier, and I was in Kruger when it went down…

On 24 April last year two rangers were arrested by the Hawks Police (OPERATION BLOOD ORANGE) for money laundering, corruption and racketeering, and suddenly poaching stopped in that section of the park. And all the other traitors masquerading as rangers suddenly realised that the police were onto them.

We cannot thank the honest, hardworking rangers in Kruger enough for putting up with these horrific working conditions for so many years. They are truly the unsung heroes.

TODAY’S BREAKING NEWS: Rogue Kruger National Park rangers: 14th suspect arrested for rhino poaching case

CREECY SAYS: “This year’s outcome shows that collaboration between conservation authorities, the South African Police Services, revenue authorities and international agencies works. We believe that if provincial authorities in KwaZulu-Natal follow our model, they will be able to significantly curb rhino poaching in their provincial parks before it is too late.

JAMIE SAYS: It already is too late. Kruger has lost more than TWO THIRDS of its rhinos in the last decade, and if anyone in government was actually honest about the statistics they would say the same about HiP/KZN: Home of the Rhino. 

CREECY SAYS: During 2022, the NPA in collaboration with the DFFE established a Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Environmental Working Group (EWG). The purpose of this group is to foster closer collaboration between the provinces working on wildlife trafficking cases and helps identify repeat offenders moving around the country.

JAMIE SAYS: Seriously? Since 2016 Saving the Wild has been handing over spreadsheets of repeat offenders and corrupt magistrates to the NPA, and nothing has ever been done about it. Thus why Saving the Wild is currently pursuing US sanctions against corrupt South African justice officials on our ‘Blood Rhino Blacklist’ who have for nearly a decade been taking bribes on rhino poaching, child rape and human trafficking. 

We cannot win unless we have the rule of law on side, and if the South African government actually had any sort of political will they would introduce a minimum sentence for rhino poaching – such as Mozambique, 16 years and Zimbabwe, 9 years – where the law actually works as a deterrent to poaching. 

In closing, if anyone out there wants to do their bit to help save the last of the rhinos in South Africa, please don’t share rhetoric on your social media pages. Only the truth will stop the bloodshed.