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US Secretary of Interior Calls for Swift Action to Stop Poaching

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell talks with investigators near the carcass of a poached rhino in Kruger National Park, South Africa’s biggest wildlife reserve, Jan. 29, 2016.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell concluded her tour of South Africa's Kruger National Park Saturday by warning the world that if swift action is not taken to fight poaching, some animals could soon be extinct.

Jewell has been on a regional trip to encourage collaboration in the fight against illegal trade in wildlife. The international outreach is part of U.S. President Barack Obama’s National Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking.

On her second and last day of touring Kruger National Park, Jewell witnessed the collaring of a black female rhino by the park's veterinary team. This involved attaching a device to the rhino so that its movements could be monitored.

Jewell said after the tour she has a "mouthful" to report to President Obama.

“Taking to President Obama that his support of the African range-line States is critically important, that his support of our bilateral relations with some of the high demand countries like China and Vietnam is very important because these animals, particularly the black rhinos, are at risk of going extinct if we don’t act and we don’t act quickly,” she said.

Closer cooperation

Her South African counterpart Minister of Water and Environment Edna Molewa praised her interaction with Secretary Jewell. Molewa said strategies shared will no doubt add value to the war against poaching being spearheaded through the country’s Integrated Strategic Management Approach.

"It’s quite exciting especially because, I am confident that from here we have our tools that will help us to analyze proactively how to deal with those people who are coming into the park and doing the poaching," said Molewa.

Praise for South African measures

Jewell applauded the measures taken by countries like South Africa in fighting illicit wildlife trafficking, but urged for more to be done.

"I think it’s on the right track, but I will say that we are really at a critical point that we have not yet stopped demand even though there has been progress made in public awareness, but demand is still very much out there. It’s really difficult to stop those transiting these products. And it’s really gonna take all of this working together in order to bring these guys to justice."

Jewell has already visited China, Vietnam, Kenya, Gabon and Namibia as part of the Obama administration’s work to stop illegal trade that threatens to wipe out elephants, rhinos and other iconic species.

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