MINING PROJECT MAY THREATEN SOUTH AFRICA RHINO POPULATION

07/21/2014

A proposed coal mine near the border of Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, the oldest protected wilderness in Africa, may endanger the already at-risk rhino population. Rhino poaching in South Africa is on the rise, with 13 killed in 2007 and 1,004 killed last year, and critics fear that the 14,615 hectare coal mine will worsen the problem, in addition to displacing local communities and polluting the air and rivers. According to one community member, the mine would make it easier for poachers to enter the park and access the threatened species. Other community members say they have suffered from the development of the nearby Somkhele mine, as coal blasting caused houses to crack and sent dust into local towns, and they fear similar problems related to the proposed colliery. A spokesperson for the mineral resources department said that the application for the mine is undergoing the standard environmental impact assessment and public consultation process, and that any objections will be taken into account. For the full story, see http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/17/-sp-mining-threat-south-africa-rhino-sanctuary-poaching.