It appears that South African National Parks has teamed up with the South African weapons manufacturer MILKOR to provide the parks anti-poaching team with some heavy firepower. Milkor has added at least two of the 40mm launchers to the park’s growing armory, a lightweight UBGL launcher and Milkor’s multiple grenade launcher.
You might be wondering why a national park needs the ability to lob grenades towards poachers, so here are some facts about poaching in the parks.
- More than 5000 rhinos have been poached in the last eight years.
- As of May this year, there have been 363 rhinos poached this year alone.
- 232 rhinos were poached in Kruger Park, 50 in KwaZulu-Natal, 30 in Limpopo, 15 in North West, 14 in Mpumalanga, 13 in Eastern Cape, 5 in the Northern Cape and 3 in the Free State.
- The conviction rate of poachers between April 2015 and march of this year has been rather high at 78% of those charged are found guilty.
Over recent years SANParks has been both heralded and criticized for it’s shift to a more militarized approach to fighting poachers. Milkor’s chief executive Marius Roos presented park staff with the two launchers at a press conference on July 22nd. During the press conference SANParks’ Head of Special Projects, Johan Jooste, stated that no lethal ammunition will be acquired and the weapons will be used “to flush the poachers out of the bush”. He then went on to say that the teargas rounds they plan to use are not dangerous to animals and would be environmentally friendly but could not say that it would have zero impact but they will do everything they can to minimize that impact.
Hat tip to Wouter for the tip.