Ezemvelo defends rhino hunt tender
EZEMVELO KZN Wildlife has expressed disappointment about concerns raised by animal rights groups over the hunting tender for a rhino the conservation agency advertised online, saying it was facilitating the hunt on behalf of the impoverished community of KwaMduku in Mkuze.
Reacting to raging criticism of its decision to offer a white male rhino to be hunted and killed, Ezemvelo said it would not benefit from the proceeds of the hunt.
A KZN businessman, who has not been identified, made the winning bid of R969 000 for the right to hunt the rhino.
Yesterday, Ezemvelo was at pains to point out that it stood to gain nothing from the tender, which was meant to benefit the Makhasa community which runs a 1 500ha reserve in Mkuze.
It said the reserve now had an array of animals including buffalo, rhino, giraffe, zebra and kudu, which had been introduced by Ezemvelo since 1994.
“It is unfortunate that such an outcry is only raised when the hunt stands to benefit the poor rural community of KwaMduku.
“The animal rights groups have been quiet throughout the year when 23 rhino hunting permits were issued to private game reserves, but are up in arms when such permits stand to benefit a poor black community,” said Ezemvelo CEO Bandile Mkhize yesterday.
Mkhize said Ezemvelo had spent more than R14 million on projects aimed at uplifting communities adjacent to its reserves.
He said KZN was among three provinces that had managed to reduce incidents of rhino poaching last year.
“Only 34 rhinos were poached in the province, of which 27 were poached in protected areas.
“A total of 39 rhinos had been poached in the province in 2010, of which 32 had been poached in the protected areas.
“This proves that the strategies introduced last year, which included improving relations with the communities around our reserves, have been successful,” said Mkhize.
However, Simon Bloch, of Outraged South African Citizens Against Poaching, a strong critic of the rhino hunt deal, insisted yesterday that it was better to keep the rhino alive to attract tourists to SA.
“If you kill the animals, no tourists will come to visit because there will be nothing to see,” he said.
Steven Smit, of Animal Rights Africa, objected to Bandile’s suggestion that animal rights activists were just opposing the Mkuze hunt because it was being facilitated on behalf of an impoverished black community.
“This is blatantly a red herring to divert public attention away from the immorality of trophy hunting and the fact that Ezemvelo’s policies on hunting and the sale of live animals from its parks for the purpose of hunting have yet to be subjected to a consultative process in which all interested and affected parties should have equal opportunity to contribute to the formulation of such policies,” he said. 8P7