In response to a Democratic Alliance (DA) parliamentary question, the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries revealed that between 12 and 20 rare roan antelope died last year due to dehydration in the Nwaxitsumbe Roan Breeding camp in Kruger National Park.

A senior ranger has been dismissed for gross negligence in this regard.

The parliamentary response also indicates that an action plan for safety and security is being implemented. The new action plan includes “weekly visits and reporting by the Section Ranger and Field Rangers at the camp to ensure integrity and functionality of the electrified fences, water reticulation equipment, adequate water provision and availability, assessment of the condition of animals and to ensure that adequate food is available”.

The DA however questions why at least 12 Roan antelope had to die before a plan was put in place?

According to the Wildlife Association, the auction value of one of these animals in 2018 was estimated at R60 000 per animal, whilst a breeding pair is worth even more. This means that the value of the dead animals are between R3 million to R5 million.

Roan antelope are a scarce and exotic species. The loss of these animals will therefore not only be a financial blow for the Kruger National Park in terms of tourism, but it is also a blow for the environment.

The DA is appalled by the fact that these animals had to die in such a cruel manner due to thirst. We will keep a close eye on the Park’s implementation of its action plan and its promise that this will never happen again.