One of Kimberley's most beloved animals,Abraham the Camel,was speared to death by poachers who apparently wanted the animal's meat. Abraham was one of the main attractions at the popular 8Myl Animal Farm petting zoo. Photo: Danie van der Lith

Kimberley - The Department of Nature Conservation’s Special Investigation Unit has positively identified the homemade spears, used to kill Abraham the Camel, as typical of the traditional weapons used in hunting by the San community in Platfontein.

News of the death of the pet camel led to a public outcry and authorities are now suspecting members of the nearby Platfontein community to be responsible for the brutal killing.

Abraham was found speared to death early Tuesday morning at 8Myl Animal Farm. Three men were seen fleeing the scene after farm workers discovered the carcass.

Des Mgoboli from Nature Conservation’s Special Investigation Unit on Wednesday confirmed that the spears used in the killing were handmade and typical of the traditional weapons manufactured and used in hunting by the San community.

Ida Sonnenberg, owner at 8Myl Animal Farm, on Wednesday said that she would leave no stone unturned in the search for the perpetrators and vowed to do whatever necessary to find them.

She also said that Abraham’s unfortunate death had led to various stakeholders, including government departments, community members, nature conservation and the “Green Scorpions” getting together to put an end to game poaching in the area.

“Through giving his life, Abraham gave a voice to other animals who cannot speak. Hopefully people will start listening now and put a stop to the cruel killing of animals on farms across the province,” she said.

Sonnenberg added that she was offering a R5 000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the culprits.

MEC of Enviromental Affairs and Nature Conservation, Patrick Mabilo, on Wednesday reacted with dismay after the brutal killing of an innocent animal.

“We, as a department, are shocked and disturbed by this incident. We do not condone the trespassing of poachers onto the property of others or the random killing of any animal. We hope the perpetrators will be brought to justice as a matter of urgency,” Mabilo said.

While numerous Kimberley residents expressed sympathy towards the Sonnenbergs and staff members at 8Myl Animal Farm, the DA also condemned the killing, calling on the Northern Cape Department of Environment and Conservation to double its efforts to protect the wildlife population in the Province.

They also expressed concern at a statement made by Sonnenberg stating that “game poaching has become a huge problem, with workers finding traps and snares in the veld almost every day”.

“Illegal hunting has become one of the most severe emerging threats to wildlife and it would appear as if poaching has now also become part and parcel of game farming and conservation in the Northern Cape,” Patricia O’Neill-Coutts, DA MPL, said.

O’Neill-Coutts added that “a demand for meat, whether for personal or commercial use, is one of the obvious drivers of the illegal game trade”.

“Environmentalists further indicates that game poaching is also driven by inadequate legal deterrents, including poor law enforcement, a lack of alternative livelihoods in rural areas, a lack of alternative food sources, a lack of clear rights relating to wildlife and land use, political instability, corruption, poor governance and traditional medicine.

“While game poaching is multifaceted and not easy to resolve, it is said to occur mostly in communities living next to State and private wildlife areas. While, at this stage, it would be irresponsible to lay blame on any one community for the death of Abraham the Camel, we must note that poaching in and around the farm areas surrounding the Platfontein settlement, is nothing new.”

The DA further indicated that it would write to Mabilo to request that he takes command of the poaching threat in the Northern Cape.

“The DA is of the view that he should start by forming a good working relationship with local communities who are close to wildlife areas, such as the Platfontein community, and educate them on the importance of conservation, the rights relating to wildlife and land use, as well as the fact that the consumption of meat is not essential for a healthy diet.

“We urgently call for the establishing of a multi-departmental task team to combat the socio-economic problems faced by the community of Platfontein.

“The department further needs to conduct research the extent of poaching in the Northern Cape, greater investment in anti-poaching measures, an increase in the number of enforcement and compliance officers in the environmental sector and the establishment of an anti-poaching forum with all stakeholders in the Province, including the police.”

The MEC for Transport, Safety and Liaison, Mac Jack, also strongly condemned the “senseless and barbaric killing of an innocent and much loved animal by ruthless and merciless poachers who were intending to slaughter the animal for its meat”.

“It is unfortunate and regrettable to have learned of such a brutal incident, especially while focusing on strengthening our civilian oversights bodies, deepening our relationship with communities in our province, as well as building partnership with civil society and other role-players in the fight against crime,” Jack said.

He added that “our society was being robbed of precious animals by nefarious poachers, particularly camels, which are a rare and imported animal in our game farms where tourists go for animal sight-seeing”.

The MEC urged all members of the community living closer to 8Myl Animal Farm to work together with all law enforcement agencies regarding the swift arrest of the suspects and countering the ongoing scourge of crime.

“We have faith in our justice system, as we need to ensure that monsters who continue to degrade our animals on game farms are removed from society for life, so as it serves as a deterrent to potential poachers in our communities,” Jack concluded.

Police spokesman, Lieutenant Sergio Kock, yesterday said that they were still investigating the case and that no arrests had been made yet.

Anyone with information regarding the incident is requested to call Detective Warrant Officer Tracy Gouvea on 083 236 5942.

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