Following the unprecedented rate of Rhino poaching occurring in our country at the moment we felt that as a conservation organization we need to alert our members to the facts and the relevant responses from other organizations. Rhino Poaching has affected The Earth Organization directly having lost 2 rhino’s on one of our reserves in the last year. With 180 rhino having been poached between January and the end of August this year alone, it is time for every South African to become involved in the fight to save our rhinos.
The situation is complex, involving many factors as well as highly organised criminal elements so although a variety of solutions have been suggested none are as cut and dry as they seem and involve some negative element. The modus operandi for the poachers seems to be that the animals are darted or shot from the air by poachers in helicopters. Once the animal is under the effects of the drugs or dead, the chopper lands and the horn is removed, often hacked off leaving the darted animal to die a slow and agonising death once the effects of the tranquilizer has worn off. Adding to the tragedy is that many of the poached rhino to date have been pregnant or nursing mothers, this is a double tragedy as the foetus or infant rhino are left to die through the loss of their mother.
Fortunately there are many people who are outraged by the events and are actively working to seize the perpetrators and put them behind bars. In a media release from the Endangered Wildlife Trust they reported that “on Wednesday the 30th June 2010, Magistrate Prince Manyathi convicted and sentenced Mr. Xuan Hoang, a Vietnamese citizen, to ten years imprisonment, with no option of a fine at the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court. Xuan Hoang was arrested at O.R. Tambo International Airport on the 29th of March 2010, whilst in possession of seven rhino horns (16 kilograms) representing four poached rhino and worth approximately R900 000.00. The South African Revenue Service officers assisting the Organised Crime Unit (HAWKS) as well as the Environmental Management Inspectors (EMIs) of the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD) during the investigation of the case, are of the opinion that the street value was probably closer to R2 million.” Cases like this are a win for all involved with the fight against these criminals.
There are a number of groups who are involved in the fight against the poaching, and The Earth Organization fully supports their efforts. The Zululand Wildlife Forum (ZWF) is working on the ground with the SAPS and the HAWKS, and The Endangered Wildlife trust has launched a Rhino Poaching hotline 082 404 2128. If you have any information or are aware of any suspected poaching activity in your area PLEASE contact them. You can also donate to the cause by SMS SAVE to 31913 to donate R10. Alternatively visithttps://www.ewt.org.za/ and follow the Dare to Care link to contribute to Rhino Security.
It is time for like-minded organizations to support one another if we are to effectively turn the tables on poachers. Working together gives us a greater network and more resources strengthening our forces.