54 relocated rhino cannot be hunted

2013-08-17 00:00

AN undertaking was given yesterday that 54 white rhinos on the verge of being relocated from Pongola’s Magudu game reserve to Wintershoek near Kimberley will not be hunted.

It is part of a consent order obtained at the high court amid allegations, and strong denials, that hunters had already laid claim to some of the rhinos and were set to shoot them at Wintershoek.

The allegations are contained in an application by Marthinus and Elsa Coetzer who, among other things, are seeking the provisional liquidation of Magudu Game Company and wanted an interdict to stop the relocation of the rhinos.

Wintershoek owner Wiaan van der Linde and managing director and shareholder of Magudu, Hendrik Greeff, said it was a “a blatant lie” the rhinos were tagged for hunting and the purpose of moving them is to safeguard them from poachers.

Greeff said Magudu is one of the biggest private owners of free-roaming white rhinos in South Africa and there is a need to protect the population. Moving the rhino would minimise the risk of poaching while retaining ownership.

Greeff said he warned the Coetzers in May — when their objections delayed the relocation — that the risk of poaching increased once permits were applied for to move such a significant number of rhinos from the reserve.

“Well-informed and experienced sources” told him that “almost without exception” poaching would follow soon afterwards at the places identified in the permit applications.

His “worst fears” were realised when a slain rhino was found on August 7.

“The blood of the slaughtered rhino is on the hands of the applicants [the Coetzers],” he said.

The capture and relocation is set to start on Monday.

In his affidavit, Coetzer said Greeff didn’t have the authority to move the rhinos, and alleged Greeff was intent on allowing the rhinos to be hunted and to “appropriate the proceeds” for his own benefit.

Coetzer said he’d established professional hunters had already arranged to hunt the rhinos, and was aware one had already bought six male rhinos.

Van der Linde responded that there was no intention to hunt the rhinos.

“Hunting of rhino bulls sometimes occurs. This is, however, controlled and only part of financing the whole operation and in the interest of proper game management,” he said.

The case has been postponed to August 30.

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