Anti-poaching air unit returns to normal operations at Kruger National Park, South Africa, after an initial drop off in cases of poaching monitored during the government-imposed lockdown.
Brad Grafton, a pilot of the air division of the Mission Area Joint Operations Centre, stated that national park investigators observed cases of poaching almost coming to a standstill during coronavirus confinement, but has since increased, in footage filmed on Wednesday.
«Initially, we saw an almost a complete stop to rhino poaching, which was very pleasant. We weren't flying much, which was a change. There was no rhino getting poached, which was great. But that didn't last too long. Pretty soon poaching from the Mozambican side picked up back to the levels it was before the coronavirus,» Grafton said.
''Over on the South African side, the level of poaching stayed a lot lower for longer. But once the park started opening up to more employees and to day visitors, there has been a gradual increase in poaching from the South African side,» Grafton added.
Rangers in operation using a K9 helicopter unit could be seen guarding the national park. What appears to be a rhino horn that was been poached, was also visible, as investigators conducted a field and soil analysis. The sample is to be sent to a genetics laboratory for further investigation.
The majority of African rhinos in the world are currently located in South Africa, and are the target of sustained poaching attempts. Rhino horns are known to sell in Asia for large sums of money, as some believe it can be used as an aphrodisiac, or has medicinal properties. There are only a few thousand rhinos left in the world. There is no scientific evidence that rhino horns have any medical benefit.