A multitude of measures, including regulatory changes, law enforcement measures and demand reduction campaigns, appear to have done little to stem the tide against organised environmental crimes. However, fewer rhinos were poached in South Africa’s signature national park, the Kruger National Park (KNP), in 2015 and 2016 than in the year before and a steady decline was evident at the time of the interview in June 2017. The KNP is home to the largest number of free roaming rhinos in the world. The park has been in the ‘eye of the storm’, losing close to 4000 rhinos to poaching between 2006 and 2016. In 2012, the South African National Parks (SANParks) management formed a unit named Special Projects. The function of the project team was to develop and implement mitigation measures to deal with the drastic increase in wildlife crime and, in particular, rhino poaching in the KNP. Major General Johan Jooste (Ret) heads the unit. Critical voices have questioned the efficacy of the anti-poaching strategy, suggesting that park authorities are waging a ‘war on poaching’ with unintended long-term consequences for protected areas management and community relations. Scholars have argued that ‘green militarisation’ has led to an arms race between poachers and rangers and, moreover, that ‘green violence’ has led to the deployment of violent instruments and tactics in pursuit of the protection of nature, and ideas and aspirations related to nature conservation.
In May 2017 Annette Hübschle interviewed Major General Johan Jooste (Ret.) to explore his views on the successes and failures of the South African anti-poaching strategy. The pair also discussed whether claims of ‘green militarisation’ in South Africa’s protected areas were justified.