Get IOL's cool new iPad app...
Two rhinos have been slain in the first week of 2013.
The carcass of a bull was found on Saturday in the Madikwe Game Reserve in North West. He had been shot and both horns had been removed. The second carcass was found in the Kruger National Park.
Douglasdale Community Police Forum spokesman Jean Berdou, who deals with wildlife poaching issues, said the killings were a terrible start to a year when big plans were in place to cut the number of rhinos killed after last year’s record-breaking bloodbath.
“We have to defend our rhinos,” said Berdou. “We cannot have another year like 2012.”
Last year a total of 651 rhinos were killed, of which 420 were in the Kruger National Park. South Africa has an estimated white rhino population of 20 000. Berdou said this year they were trying to get people to work together to try stop poaching syndicates.
There were a number of plans for the year – many focussing on the Kruger National Park, said Berdou.
“One of the major initiatives is training and deploying new rangers in Kruger. The park now has the largest number of armed rangers in the world.”
Other initiatives included deploying soldiers on the park’s borders, specialised police teams in the park, and new technology “drones” that had already made inroads on illegal border crossings.
Berdou said the government would be approached to form special courts to deal with wildlife issues and where trained personnel could prosecute poaching cases.
He said the other idea was to work closely with the Mozambique government to try to stop communities who lived on the park borders from poaching.
“Many of these villagers in Mozambique have grown up on poaching. It has been their means of survival for the past 20 years,” said Berdou.
“We are hoping to bring some sort of social upliftment to these communities so they can break the cycle of poverty which leads to poaching.”
He said rhino horn traders approached these communities and were easily able to enlist them to hunt rhinos.
“We want to make them aware of the rewards we are offering: R100 000 for information on a poacher and R1 million for a boss,” said Berdou. “It is far more than they are being paid for the rhino horns.”
He said there were also plans to look at cutting the red tape around permits for moving the animals. At present, Berdou said, when they heard there would be a hit on a rhino, they applied for permits to move the animal, but the permits took six months to come through. “We are hoping to have a better year than last year,” Berdou said.
“One of the only ways is to keep information out there so that people start to turn in rhino poachers.”