Outrage over bid to hunt white rhino

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nm w rhino p1 . Photo: Steve Lawrence

An anti-rhino poaching activist has challenged the “mystery businessman” who forked out close to R1 million to hunt and kill a white rhino in KwaZulu-Natal to identify himself, exchange his high-powered rifle for a camera, take the shot and walk away.

Simon Bloch, of Outraged South African Citizens Against Poaching, was reacting to an announcement by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife that a KZN businessman had paid R960 000 for the right to hunt a white rhino at Mkuze game reserve.

The offer came after Ezemvelo had asked people to bid online to kill the animal, which was deemed surplus to requirements.

Ezemvelo had defended the move, saying this was done annually as the reserve reached capacity and animals had to be removed.

Offering the animals to be hunted also raised money for conservation efforts, said chief executive Bandile Mkhize.

However, the offer triggered angry reaction from those fighting to save rhinos in the wake of an increase in poaching of the animals.

Bloch said yesterday that confirmation from Ezemvelo that a mystery KZN businessman had been awarded the rhino hunt was a sad moment for rhinos and a sad indictment on the state of the Ezemvelo board.

“They are not willing to grant transparency to their process even though they are public servants on the payroll of taxpayers’ money. An amount of R960 000 is a lot of money to pay for a rhino when you can pick them up at auctions for R300 000.”

Bloch said many people had been outraged by “the savage onslaught” of poaching of the endangered animals in the country.

“Now to see this publicly entrusted body doing this sends the wrong kind of message to the world.

Ezemvelo spokeswoman Waheeda Peters would not name the businessman with the winning bid or say when the hunt would take place.


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Anonymous, wrote

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02:08pm on 8 January 2012
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So if two of our fatcat ministers bought a "cheap" car of "only" R500,000 as opposed to the normal R1million and this 'saving' was routed to conservation, the rhino could be saved? How on earth can an animal that is deemed to be critically endangered be deemed to be "surplus"!

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Felicity, wrote

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01:14pm on 8 January 2012
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Quite sensless to collect money in Europe for the WWF for Wildlife-Conservation in Africa, I would say.

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Anonymous, wrote

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11:49am on 6 January 2012
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Simon certainly has a firm grip - unfortunately of the wrong end of the stick. Equating Ezemvelo to poachers is ironic seen in the light that the organisation is credited with saving the white rhino. Indeed, I believe his dramatisation and oversimplification of a difficult and complex matter is a cheap publicity stunt. Now if Simon were to put his (personal) money where his mouth is and donate the on a rand-for-rand basis funding to a conservation department - that would give him credibility.

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Stella, wrote

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04:10pm on 5 January 2012
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Wonder if this person who spends their life making money can shoot properly. Have my doubts. So another innocent animal must suffer for a human's vanity. Do the meaningful thing and help support conservation. All you'll have left is a dusty old trophy forgotten by future generations remembered as that horrible relative.

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Cam S, wrote

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01:22pm on 5 January 2012
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China has not issued Panda hunts to raise funds for its conservation. The US did not issue Bald Eagle or the Condor hunts to raise money for their conservation. Australia has not issued hunts to save the Bilby... Central Africa is not issuing Mountain Gorilla hunts to raise money for its conservation... Its a no brainer to ask why? When you place a greater dollar value on an endangered or threatened animals death rather than life, you sign its species ultimate death... Black Rhino numbered in the hundreds of thousands in the early 1900's, dropped to 65,000 by 1970, dropping to 2300 by 1993. Exact numbers in Africa right now are unknown. White Rhino numbered around 50 in the early 1900s and now sit estimated at around 14500, tho some estimates are higher and lower. Northern and Western Rhino sub species are now extinct! I would hardly say this is flourishing and its taken 100 years to get to this stage... Hardly brilliant! China's lust for their destruction is enormous and out of control. To Hunt a few of the remaining for a fast dollar in the name of conservation is stupidity beyond belief! If KZN Wildlife were so impressed by this Rhino hunt, Photos would be all over the world stage - they would be publicizing it globally and basking in its publicity and benefits to conservation - But that is far from the case!......... Its like an international secret! Tho a bad one! This isn't conservation at work, this is greed, ignorance, arrogance, stupidity and chasing the fast $$$ on the world stage.... Few are impressed.

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Anonymous, wrote

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10:22am on 5 January 2012
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The Businessman should be hunted for the same price tag if he is courageous enough to face the bullet.Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife are not conserving wildlife but they are just another sophisticated breed of poachers

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Ringmaster, wrote

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04:20pm on 3 January 2012
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What about ritual slaughter and killing a bull with bare hands? What about dog fighting and bull fighting? I wonder if the local community or an exotic restaurant will benefit from the meat? I doubt any part of the rhino would be wasted. Just a few random thoughts.

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Shelley, wrote

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03:12pm on 3 January 2012
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I have nothing to say which will stop this and nothing to say which will reflect my absolute horror of this. Why can these animals not be left to die peacefully - without being chased and hunted. Imagine the fear...it breaks my heart that people can be such savages.

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Ashley, wrote

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03:02pm on 3 January 2012
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Smells like corruption, just say'n. If its surplus, send it to another park. we're talking about endangered species here, not guppies.

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Anonymous, wrote

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02:49pm on 3 January 2012
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I find it intolerable that so many people slate Ezemvelo as if they have full knowledge of how the organisation operates, ignoring how many truly dedicated employees try to keep the organisation operating, from the limited funds they get from the KZN provincial coffers. I wonder hown may people realise that the organisation is assisted by more the 800 dedicated honaray officers the give of their free time, at no cost, to assist the organisation. As to selling a hunting permit for R900 000.0 so as to shoot a SELECTED Rhino, I think that if their is someone willing to pay this amount to shoot an animal that in all probability has come close to the end of its life and would die naturally in the relatively near future, why not make money out of the cull. I for one am not for hunting for huntings sake, but then I eat steak and dont think of the fact that an animal was killed so that I could enjoy a fillet. We have to accept that the areas set aside for our wild game is shrinking and that over use of the the land they occupy will eventually desimate the very animals we try to protect. poaching of our wildlife heratage has to be stamped out and well done to those that are doing their best to stop it. I do however wonder if their is as much publicity of other endangerd wildlife like the bue swallow and the many wild plants that are endangered. I guess they are far less important than those animals that are put in the public eye by the media, Blue swallows are not "sexy" enough to collect the millions that have been collected to protect the Rhino.

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Margueriet, wrote

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12:46pm on 3 January 2012
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I have been watching this ongoing battle between rhino and man from the sideline for a while now. I know that when you write stuff, when your opinion is jotted down on paper, like now, your opinion should carry fact and strategy, because that is what the people in decision making positions are looking for. Give them the facts, and maybe then they will consider giving you the time of day........ This writing will have none of that, as I suppose the facts have been mentioned too many a time, but upon seeing this article, I felt compelled to get my butt of the fence line and to be another voice that speaks out. With this I would like to voice my utter disappointment, utter disbelieve and immense anger toward both man and society, both government and organization. It is our duty to protect, to look after, to try and understand how nature and the creatures within has so long survived, yet it is our greed that makes us grab the quickest solutions often being the easiest ways out. Today, I am sad.....

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Alicia, wrote

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11:50am on 3 January 2012
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I am not @Alicia!. This person can go from PERSONA NON GRATA in one fell, most wonderful swoop, and become the Great, Wonderful Champion of Rhino Conservation. Also the struggle to keep the few remaining White Rhinos alive. Donate the money to Rhino Conservation, of which I am a member. You shall be given a magnificent plague to hang above your fire place. And your children and ancestors shall revere you for ever. The sincere thanks of many will pour over you and make you feel like a Real Man. Please!

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Allison Thomson, wrote

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11:35am on 3 January 2012
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What we must not lose sight of when it comes to the whole issue of the "communities" is that all along we have been told that unless you involve the local communities you will never stop the poaching because they are your closest allies. Also, the local communities actually used to live on that land and have land claims (settled or not) so we need to keep the bigger picture in mind here. They are also "shareholders" in the business and it is in their interests to make the reserve work properly as it affects their livelihoods. So when Dr Mkhize says the money will go to the community andor conservation then it is really actually going back to the "shareholders" in the reserve. Most of these agreements that have been entered into by the Government and local tribal leaders works both ways for the reserve - they (the communities) have a vested interest in the reserve being successful and a successful community means a protected reserve. Look at examples of other reserves where local communities do not benefit from the reserves - the incidence of poaching is increased dramatically. Food for thought - we need to look at the bigger picture here. My offer stands regarding the horn treatment and if the winner of the tender would like to contact me privately we can arrange a treatment for him. I will guarantee you that if you wish to remain annonymous we will honour that but will make it public that you did do the treatment. You can contact us via the website www.rhinorescueproject.com

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kenny, wrote

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11:12am on 3 January 2012
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This is a disgrace. The money will be filtered into another thieving comrades pocket.Can't they transfer the Rhino??

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Alan, wrote

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11:08am on 3 January 2012
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This is a classic instance where the public should invoke the powers granted to them by the Promotion of Access to Information Act and demand the information from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife regarding the cardboard cutout replica of a human being who is willing to pay this kind of money to kill a rhino.

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Allison Thomson, wrote

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10:57am on 3 January 2012
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Whether you are for or against hunting is a personal issue. It must be remembered that hunting does certainly have a place in conservation and there are many hunters out there that assist reserves in protecting animals from poaching. However in light of the current situation in South Africa where we find "quasi rhino hunts" taking place because there is a loophole in our laws I question the motives of this hunting outfitter. Why would you pay a massive premium of R900K to purchase this Rhino unless you already had a buyer lined up for the horn? Let's face it you can purchase a Rhino for a mere R200K these days. What we would like to see is a Moratorium on Rhino hunting until such time as the permit system is sorted out and the loopholes in our laws stop trophy's leaving our country merely to land up on the black market in Asia. If this business man is legitimate then I am sure that he would not object to the horn being treated by Rhino Rescue Project - this will leave the horn unusable on the black market. I challenge the hunting outfitter that won this tender to take me up on this challenge to have the horn treated. We will cover the cost of the treatment and it will show to the rest of the world your noble motive and it will probably do your "legitimate" business the world of good. www.rhinorescueproject.co.za

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JennyN, wrote

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10:43am on 3 January 2012
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How can this be allowed? How can it even be contemplated?? The South African public and conservation fraternity have been bending over backwards to stop the rhino poaching, and to conserve these magnificent creatures for future generations, and here a wildlife organisation, no less, is openly exploiting the creature for the sake of money. It sick. Its even sicker that some primative, spiritually bankrupt individual with money and a gun considers it ok to kill a rhino (not hunt it, just kill it in cold blood) for a trophy! Those animals belong to all of us. There is more than enough money for conservation if the anc would stop the blatant theft and self-enrichment that is so out of control. This must absolutely not be allowed. Please. Please stop this shocking murder of an innocent, beautiful animal. We must find out who put the money on the table, and we must hold the KZN Wildlife accountable for this unadulterated greed.

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Anonymous, wrote

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10:24am on 3 January 2012
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At the end of the day, they need that money for conservation, they are not getting it anywhere else, and if it can go towards fighting poaching, then we need to consider it. I do however agree with the sentiments about the type of "person" who does this. Then again, hunting is a common thing in the karoo every year, many guys go hunting. Of course that's not for a trophy but for meat.

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Paul, wrote

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10:11am on 3 January 2012
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The fact of the matter is that this complaining iddiot does not understand the wildlife trade at all.. in the end it will be hunters that save the Rhino. for "trophy" hunting the hunter pays x ammount per milimeter in length of the horn....a Rhino for R300000 is a snall one and to kill an animal you need it to make financial sense...1mill is about the gowing price ....making it worthwhile firstly to shoot the Rhino and secondly to breed them for future hunts..this is the point... the future of the animal and fact is that hunters will eventually pay to save the animal for the future and will do much more to conserve endagered wildlife...

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SA Subject, wrote

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10:16am on 3 January 2012
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@Alicia - "the whole world shall know about the disgrace of the South African Regime." They already do. Not for cruelty to animals, but for cruelty to their subjects.

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