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Breach in link to rhino poaching

Kwazulu Natal

KwaZulu-Natal - Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife says the result of an internal probe into the recent killing of seven rhinos in the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park will be made public after it has been scrutinised by a group of “independent conservation experts”.

Ezemvelo chief executive Bandile Mkhize said he had nothing to hide about the preliminary field investigation into the poaching. “First impressions show a small breach in the chain of command at Hluhluwe-Imfolozi. Sadly, it only takes one or two people to be induced by these huge riches, or one area of neglect of supervision and ‘bang’ you suffer this dramatic consequence.”

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In a May 7, 2012 photo provided by Disney, Kendi, a 13-year-old female white rhino, tends to her new male calf at Disney's Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The yet-unnamed calf was born May 4 after a 16-month gestation period. It is the ninth white rhino born at Disney's Animal Kingdom, with Kendi being the first. (AP Photo/Disney, Gene Duncan)

However, Mkhize said calls for an independent investigation into the poaching of the rhinos were “ill-considered”.

“I flatly reject this mistrust, [it] ignores the professionalism in our ranks. It also shows an ignorance of the extreme sensitivity surrounding intelligence gathering.

“In this climate of mistrust and suspicion, who exactly qualifies to undertake such an investigation?” Mkhize asked.

He acknowledged criticism that Ezemvelo had suffered from a loss of experienced staff, but noted that it had formed a strategic support committee made up of former senior conservation officials.

But critics should also not “sugar-coat everything from yesteryear”, Mkhize said.

“There are many instances of past field operations performing beyond the scope of modern-day accountability by ex-military personnel… Yesterday’s practices spoke of people on one side and bio-diversity on the other.

“Our approach demands a sustained humanistic outreach, one that is fundamental for the acceptance of conservation among our rural people.”

He was dismayed to hear “opportunistic and largely unsubstantiated” criticism of Ezemvelo’s performance at a time when SA’s rhinos were under assault from criminal networks offering huge financial inducements to poachers. - The Mercury

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