54 rhinos killed in 6 weeks

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iol news 04 feb SA PN rhino note pic feb 15 INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS File photo of Zimbabwean artist Dolfi Stoki with his painting called RP 2011: 00448AC  which stands for Rhinos poached in 2011, 448 and counting.

Just six weeks into the new year, at least 54 rhinos have been slaughtered for their horns.

If the killing continues at this rate, it is expected that by the end of the year at least 450 rhinos will have been killed by criminal syndicates.

Releasing statistics for the first 44 days of the year, SA National Parks said on Tuesday afternoon that 52 rhinos had been killed. But barely an hour later The Mercury received information that two more rhinos had been poached at a private game lodge near Hluhluwe in KwaZulu-Natal.

On Tuesday night, Chicks Game Lodge co-owner Christine Ballantyne confirmed that a white rhino cow and 16-month-old calf had been shot and dehorned on Sunday night.

According to SANParks, most of the killings were in the Kruger National Park, where 26 rhinos were poached, followed by Limpopo, where 13 were poached.

More than 180 field rangers have been on strike in Kruger National Park for the past 10 days, over wages.

In KwaZulu-Natal, six rhinos have been killed (this appears to exclude the two latest deaths at Chicks Game Lodge).

Last week, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife also confirmed that two white rhino carcasses had been found close together in the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park on Wednesday. A third white rhino was poached in the Ndumo reserve on Thursday.

In both cases, the carcasses were found shortly after the animals had been shot. The poachers had fled before they could remove horns from two of the three rhinos.

The latest deaths bring to at least 950 the number of rhinos poached since January 2009.

The CEO of SANParks, Dr David Mabunda, said: “It is worrying that we are still losing such a high number of rhinos throughout the country. The most encouraging area in this whole saga is the increasing number of arrests and the steeper sentences that are being imposed.

“The difficulty is pinning a suspected criminal to the crime because we are dealing with very wily, sophisticated individuals.”

Countrywide, about 30 poachers have been arrested this year, most in North West and Mpumalanga.

Shaun Smillie of The Star reports that a joint police and animal protection group operation in North West on Tuesday resulted in the arrests of five suspected poachers, including a man believed to be the head of the syndicate.

The arrests, according to the chairman of the Private Rhino Owners’ Association, Pelham Jones, means the police now have the last members of a syndicate that has been operating in the area near Assen. Jones said the police, acting on a tip-off, waited for the suspects. At about 12.40am on Tuesday, they were spotted driving on an isolated road near an area known to hold rhino, and an attempt was made to arrest them, Jones said.

Shots were fired at the police and in the shoot-out, one suspect was wounded three times.

After the arrests a .458 calibre rifle, used on large game, was found.

Also found in the vehicle were 14 rounds of solid .458 calibre ammunition, preferred in shooting animals like elephant and rhino. There was also a 9mm handgun.

The police confirmed the operation, but did not want to give details. - The Mercury

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Anonymous, wrote

IOL Comments
05:38pm on 15 February 2012
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I suppose this is why the animals are being removed from the new bank notes. Children would soon be asking "But what's that!"

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Rsvdog, wrote

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04:52pm on 15 February 2012
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I reckon we should deploy South Africa Army and Special Forces in all the high risk areas and use it as training platform for combat. They can patrol the areas and at the same time learn to live, track and kill in the wild which is basically what war is about.

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Anonymous, wrote

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04:26pm on 15 February 2012
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I agree with Desmond. The government is wasting our tax monies on luxurious living, etc. It seems there is no funding to stop rhino poaching effectively. I think a fair punishment for rhino poachers would be that they pay for the price of the rhino - that is a few hundred thousand rands, plus another R100 000,00 for the suffering the animal had. In any case, I refuse to buy anything Chinese (or TAiwanese) for that matter!!

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desmond, wrote

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12:46pm on 15 February 2012
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You see, it doesn't matter South africa or anywhere in africa, the first signs of a new regime are the destruction of wild life, say what you like about the national party and all the B.S racial stuff, things in SA worked back then, the environment was cleaner, the wild life flourished and we had great game farms, we were a net exporter of food, low crime levels, more jobs (there is historical data to back this up) just shows you as a whole like a pie graph, the only area the ANC have succeeded is BEEAA, corruption and having millions of illegal immigrants come into the country, when you judge them on success they have nothing to show, perhaps this is why the animals are being taken off of our bank notes because soon people will start asking questions "where have all the rhinos gone?"

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MADOC, wrote

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11:48am on 15 February 2012
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when you have a government in place that does not know what the hell they are doing and prefer to live like rich supers stars every aspect of life will deteriorate where life is worth nothing ,we are already doing a good job killing ourselves and for those that say we heading Zim way ,i says no we are sliding into way worse than ETHIOPA .This sheet never and would have never occurred undER the now defunct the NATIONAL pARTY .

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sheldon, wrote

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11:17am on 15 February 2012
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It is unbelievable that in this day and age where we have access to state of the art technology and tracking devices that this is happening at such an alarming rate. why not poison all of these horns and fit each and every rhino with a tracking device regardless of how much money this will cost as all animals are truly a gift from god.

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Steph, wrote

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11:10am on 15 February 2012
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Eddie's comment should not have been posted. He is shamelessly using this story to promote his pro-life agenda. Feed him to the poachers.

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Mike, wrote

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11:08am on 15 February 2012
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Drinking the blood of Rhino poachers cures HIV Aids

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Goro, wrote

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10:52am on 15 February 2012
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Inside jobs always robs off...if your bodyguard is being paid more to kill you than you pay him to protect you then you know what time it is...

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Anonymous, wrote

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10:47am on 15 February 2012
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to all the muti men and snagomas about their uneducated views - put them into cages with rhinos! They should be living in th ebush...

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Dr Fong Kong, wrote

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10:47am on 15 February 2012
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Medical Break through : it has been discovered by the State university that if you cut the testicals of persons that has been consuming Rhino Horns and eat it lightly grilled with red wine it will cure HIV , Some Cancers , and Skin Diseases .

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Anonymous, wrote

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10:38am on 15 February 2012
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Vey Very worring , the penalty for poaching or being in possession of Rhino products should be much more harsh , the strange thing I have never seen the actual bosses the chines or vietnanise the buyers of these products actually being brought to justice .There must be some corruption at higher level for these products to be leaving our shores .GOD BLESS AND LOOK AFTER THESE WONDERFUL CREATURES OF YOURS FROM THE DEVIL....(MAN)

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aleo, wrote

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10:38am on 15 February 2012
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how do these poachers get away so quickly they must have inside info where to find the rhinos

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Eddie, wrote

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10:38am on 15 February 2012
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How many unborn babies have been murdered in last six weeks? Where is the outcry over that? Just because you can't see the baby does not mean it does not exist or is ALIVE!! Aborting the baby is killing a human being. Sure it is wrong to destroy what God has given us to care for. Poachers must be brought to book and pay for their crime. What about murdering innocent babies? Surely....?

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Anonymous, wrote

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10:35am on 15 February 2012
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I will probably upset a lot of people by saying this but here goes.............Trading in rhino horn should be legalized, by doing that the trading can be done in a controlled environment, and it would not be as profitable for these criminals. Please understand that i don't condone rhino horn trading in any way or form. This should also stop the suffering and needless killing of these majestic animals.

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Marc , wrote

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10:29am on 15 February 2012
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Poachers should either have both hands chopped off so they can no longer use them to hack off rhino horns, or even better they should be exucuted on the spot and left there to rot

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Leo, wrote

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10:26am on 15 February 2012
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Something very fishy here, corrupt officials at the parks are allowing this to happen. Bad Wage = Corrupt Workers

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eish, wrote

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10:24am on 15 February 2012
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This is bad for the South African government. It seems they cannot do anything about it. Change is needed

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The Lastword, wrote

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10:23am on 15 February 2012
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The most disgraceful thing about all this is that South African rangers, cops, farmers and vets are aiding these people which is why their success rate is so high.

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Sonono Mshengu, wrote

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10:16am on 15 February 2012
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Call me mad but if I would come across any of these fools committing this crime I would shot them dead right on the spot. One thing for sure is that this lunacy is being funded by some moneyed fools who choose to fund their lifestyles by committing such evil deeds. I through upon those people the Psalm of David, Psalm 109 where David calls upon God to destroy his enemies in the most horrible of ways. Killers of Rhinos and their sponsors are my enemies hence I also pray that “may they be blotted out of the book of life, and may they not be recorded with the righteous” (Ps. 69:27-28).

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