When we investigate Kruger National Park's record of conservation, the rhino losses to poaching are the outstanding feature. The greed of poachers and their eastern crime-lords has created a new threat to elephants that needs careful consideration.
The army and armed ranger help for Kruger has been stretched to the limit with the loss of an amazing 1004 animals last year in South Africa. 500 have been killed this year. As far as elephants are concerned, the killing has been in Mozambique, just over the border with Kruger, and in Kenya, Zimbabwe and Tanzania. Here is the situation in Kenya, as their largest bulls are killed:- The elephant king is dead.
Elephant killing demands larger guns and they don't give up easily, making lots of noise as the herd tries to protect its members. Aircraft surveillance also helps in Kruger but that army response is crucial. At the moment, army units sit on the border, but tactics could soon decide who wins this war on the elephant. The 20,000 square km area, including the border areas, needs to be covered by joint national patrols from both countries, while rapid response would seem to be the order of the day. To stop these poachers would take more than simply warning shots, as they kill rangers with impunity.
Another solution for Kruger is the reported removal and/or sale of the rhinos and even their horns for their own protection. If the elephants are targeted, then maybe it's about time full military action is taken. Armies are demanding of resources, but those tourists in the National Park are economically important and are very close to violent action. Intelligence about these operatives in Mozambique and the oriental connections can't be too difficult to find and then it's only a matter of time before borders, rhinos and elephants can be respected once more. The only missing links would be the cooperation of every government and the removal of corrupt officials.