Retired army general enlisted against poachers

The South African National Parks (SANParks) has acquired the services of a retired decorated army Major General to oversee the overall anti-poaching operations in the Kruger National Park (KNP).

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 Major General (retired) Johan Jooste was recently introduced by SANParks Chief Executive Officer, David Mabunda, who said this concluded the foundation phase of the multi-pronged strategy against rhino poaching. “This strategy is to leverage on existing capacities and strategic alliances, while bringing the much needed thinking and innovation on existing gaps and loopholes.”

Mabunda also announced a cash reward of R100 000 to members of the public who gave information for a successful arrest of a suspected poacher, as well as R1 000 000 for a successful conviction of a poaching syndicate mastermind. “We are also happy to announce our partnership with South Africa’s Crime Line, a groundbreaking initiative that allows members of the public to make anonymous SMS tip-offs on suspected crimes at any time of the day, courtesy of LeadSA.”

According to Mabunda, South Africa has lost an unprecedented number of rhinos of which in the last five years most were killed in the KNP. “It is therefore our hope that the approach that we are taking at this moment, by engaging Major General Johan Jooste will in time bring the much needed invigoration in the fight against the decimation of our natural heritage.”

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Jooste has a vast experience in military intelligence, border and area protection and also contemporary knowledge of modern technology use and integration into capability and some knowledge in conservation. In his response Jooste said, “I will do my best to bring acceptable results. This fight against poaching is not about an individual and success depends on the collective collaboration and commitment from the men and women tasked with the responsibility of conserving our heritage.” 

He said, the battle lines have been drawn and it was up to his team and him to forcefully push back the frontiers of poaching. “It is a fact that South Africa, a sovereign country, is under attack from armed foreign nationals. This should be seen as a declaration of war against South Africa by armed foreign criminals. We are going to take the war to these armed bandits and we aim to win it.”

The appointment of the Major General followed shortly after the deployment of a Seeker Seabird aircraft donated by the Ichikowits Family Foundation as well as an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, Seeker 2, loaned to SANParks by arms manufacturer Denel. The two military aircrafts will provide intelligence, especially at night.