You may have noticed the recent online buzz concerning rhino poaching in South Africa. According to several reports, as many as 6 of these beautiful, endangered animals have been gunned down in the past week. The letter below, along with the other excerpts, photographs and news items, were sent to me this week by a concerned friend in South Africa who is desperately seeking some assistance in spreading the word concerning these horrible atrocities.
It seems clear that there must be some involvement at the highest levels in the South African government, the police and Wildlife Protection Services in this disaster because it is obvious that no one in authority appears willing or able to do anything about this. The poachers appear to be operating at will and in fact, looking at this notification, it would seem that they are taunting the world with it.
I know a lot of you folks are incensed by it and like me feel completely helpless in this situation, especially those of you in South Africa. I have forwarded the note on to an organisation I subscribe to called Care 2 Petition in the hope that we can raise the tempo somewhat and force the South African, Mozambique and Zimbabwe (The latter a lost cause I think!) governments to do something to weed out the graft and corruption and most of all bring the perpetrators of these crimes to book.
If anyone on this distribution list has any contact with UK, Canadian, US governments or UN organisations, please do what you can to highlight the plight of these animals. It is not as though there is any benefit to the local populations engendered through these killings. It is only the greedy hunters and those in the Far East who create the market for the products of these ill gotten gains.
19/08/10 – We lost another one in Limpopo today. Our rhino was shot 12 times with a .223, presumably a semi automatic R5 assault rifle, and they also slashed the animals hind leg tendons to take it down. They probably wounded it badly and had to do that to stop it from moving around so that they could kill it. So no helicopter used. We are having many of these .223 caliber killings and many of them have been linked with the same rifle so one group is operating and we are unable to catch them. It’s a disgrace.
Poachers strike yet again!!
20/08/10 – Today at approx 06.30 hours we had an adult white rhino cow poached and the horn removed. Our manager came upon the scene minutes after the shooting and a follow up is in progress, but it is proving difficult as the poachers are barefoot and using anti tracking tactics – a 375 H+H caliber was used.
We have had a spate of rhino poached to date despite serious anti poaching activities – this is the 10th rhino since early December 2009 to be poached on and around the reserve – Sabie Game Park (bordering the eastern fence of the Kruger National Park) is home to the largest herd of rhino in the entire Mozambique and is under siege from the poachers.
Sadly a second Rhino cow was found dead after the poachers were followed from the 1st (seen below with horn removed). That makes it two for the day! If we in the wildlife industry don’t get the support that we need from Government and drastic action is not taken then I am afraid that the Rhino as we know it today will not exist within 10 years!
A woman mourns over the body of her deceased husband after he had purchased apparently purposely contaminated Rhino horn on the open market in Bangkok. The source of the contamination is still to be verified but it is thought to be from a private game farm somewhere in southern Africa.
Officials in Thailand are frantic to identify the source, as the powdered horn is sold in miniscule amounts and they have no idea how much has already been distributed throughout Bangkok. Local hospitals are on standby for an unprecedented influx of new cases.
Officials are unable get information as the rhino horn dealers in Bangkok are being uncooperative. They neither want to be fingered as being the provider of the poisoned horn, not do they want to reveal their illegal international sources. It is believed that private game farm owners in southern Africa are colluding between themselves to distribute an effective poison that is harmless to the animals but harmful, or even fatal as in this case, to those that ingest the contaminated horn.
A game farm owner from the North West Province who obviously wishes to remain anonymous, has admitted to using the poison on 4 of his animals. Three of them have shown no side-effects whatsoever 2 months after the poison was injected into the horns. However the 4th rhino was slaughtered and de-horned on a remote part of his farm in the last week of July. When asked to comment on the death in Thailand from suspect poisoned rhino horn, he refused to be drawn into the morals of the farmers joint action. He said that there would be many more cases in the near future as he was personally aware of at least another 5 slaughters of contaminated rhinos in the North West Province alone.
Authorities in South Africa are unable to comment on the “poison” collusion among the game farm owners nor are they able to verify the source of the contaminated horn.
Johannesburg – 2010-08-23 20:00
A national committee has been set up to tackle rhino poaching in South Africa, the SA National Parks (Sanparks) said on Monday.
“The intention of the committee is to improve communication and co-ordination among the anti-poaching initiatives by Sanparks, government, police, and security agencies, private game reserves and rhino owners as well as other conservation and wildlife organisations,” Sanparks spokesperson Sam Ferreira said.
Sam Ferreira, the newly elected committee chair, said four initial priorities to fight rhino poaching were agreed upon by the committee.
- To set up a National Number which people could phone to report rhino poaching activities.
- To co-ordinate the provision of intelligence from all groups to the National Wildlife Crime Reaction Unit.
- To co-ordinate a National Fundraising Campaign for specific anti-poaching initiatives.
- To run an information campaign about rhino poaching and the use of rhino horn.
The committee was set up on Monday (23/08/10) at the Lead SA Rhino Summit, where the resolution was signed by 37 representatives of organisations including the SAPS Hawks, the Department of Environmental Affairs, Crimeline and the Endangered Wildlife Trust.
If you’d like to get started helping, please join the Zululand Wildlife eForum on Facebook for more information.