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Depressing start for rhino conservation

13 January 2012, 12:55

We all hailed the New Year with enthusiasm and determination to make this year a memorable one.

What a devastating start to the year with the discovery of the rhino carcasses in the Kruger National Park as well as some of the private reserves. It seems the poachers did enormous damage during the festive season.  If one has to look for any good that comes out of such a horrific tragedy in our conservation, it is that this news has galvanised the public into making a stance and wanting to make a difference. How sad that we have to be horrified into action.

People want to stop the carnage and everyone is looking at ways to help and to put pressure on Government and decision makers to DO SOMETHING. We need to make our voices heard and there are so many Facebook groups, Twitter groups and just the man in the street who want action. In all these forums the passion is felt but there is also a great deal of hysteria. One’s credibility is lost when arguments become subjective and no longer objective. Agreed we are all passionate about this matter and enraged at what appears to be a lack of urgency, but calm action goes a long way.

The lack of information and feedback from SANParks is disappointing. It is understandable that they do not want to reveal their actions in order to avoid alerting the poaching syndicates, but the public are howling in despair and need to be reassured that some action is being taken. The news that some poachers have been apprehended while others were killed does give one some hope that they are on the trail. We look forward to more good news from SANParks, the custodians of the majority of the rhino in our country.

There does need to be co-operation and not competition between the various conservation/counter poaching initiatives. The outraged public are willing to donate funds but it needs to get to the targets quickly, be used effectively and not be stalled in administrative processes.  There needs to be feedback and reassurance that the money being donated is really making a difference.

What is needed is strong decisive action, with a strategy that we can all believe in and support. The objective being to stop the poaching on the ground , but also a strategy to get to the kingpins who are funding the poaching and exploiting the socio-economic situation in our rural areas.

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