Second rhino killed in a week at iSimangaliso, KZN total now 57

2012-10-23 00:00

A SIXTH white rhino has been killed by poachers within the borders of the iSimangaliso World Heritage Site.

The fresh carcass found early on Sunday evening is the second rhino to be poached within seven days and drives the South African total up to 456 and the provincial tally to 57.

The rhino is believed to have been killed less than 24 hours before it was found in the Ozabeni section of iSimangaliso. The area has been cordoned off with members of the police Organised Crime Unit conducting an investigation.

Park CEO Andrew Zaloumis said while the poaching will not affect the park’s UNESCO status, it has “massive implications” for the economy and ecology.

“The effect poaching could have on tourism is a real threat. Tourism is probably the largest business employer in the region with at least 11 500 beds currently available in and around the park. We are calling the poaching of rhinos an economic crime as it has a severe knock-on effect on the livelihoods of the communities living around the park,” said Zaloumis.

He said the park’s staff and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife personnel were saddened by each incident.

“We are here to protect wildlife so naturally poaching has an effect on us, but it also strengthens our resolve to get better than those committing the crime and positive progress.”

Zaloumis said the biggest challenge still lay with the illicit rhino market. Horns retail up to R500 000 per kilogram. Each horn weighs up to six kilograms.

Last week, The Witness reported that EKZNW would start “vetting” all staff in an attempt to curb the growing rhino poaching trade as well as other initiatives such as bringing in the army to rhino poaching zones.

“We began a reward programme about two years ago offering a R100 000 for any information that will lead to the successful prosecution of rhino poachers. This is still valid and we are appealing to the community to come forward with information.”

Zaloumis said the park, which recently implemented a joint initiative with the police, border police, KZN Police Airwing, EKZNW and the anti-poaching unit called “Operation Hammer”, has had success in locating and confiscating illegal boats, hippo snares and gill nets in the Dukuduku section of the park.

“Good law enforcement and education are of paramount importance in conserving our national treasure and we will continue combating illegal activities at every turn,” he said.

If you have any information about poaching or if you spot anything suspicious call Siboniso Duma (Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife conservation manager St Lucia Marine) at 082 559 2871 or iSimangaliso’s 24-hour emergency number 082 797 7944.

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