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Rhino poachers on the rampage

07 December 2011, 07:17

With such dread and disappointment I read the latets Statistics issued by SANparks on Rhino poaching. Despite all the efforts and enthusiasm shown by the public, the field rangers themselves, the administration and the environmental protection agencies, the poachers are still wreaking havoc among our rhino population.

To think that 405 rhino have been poached out of our parks this year and we have managed to arrest 210 suspects. One cannot question the abilities of the field rangers but one does have to look seriously at the skills employed by the poachers. What do we need to do to ensure that our rangers are better equipped than the poachers? We need to put even more effort into ensuring that the rangers and their support teams have THE most sophisticated equipment at their disposal. Stopping the poaching is not going to happen overnight so we need to equip the custodians of our rhino with whatever is possible to track down the poachers and to ensure that they are sucessfully prosecuted. Tried and tested technique must be backed by new methods, out of the box ideas and innovative techniques must be supported to ensure poachers are more at risk of being caught and prosectuted than the possibility of getting away with murdering and pillaging. There are suggestions that flooding the market with "legal"rhino horn will lessen the requirement to poach, but this will simply make it even more difficult to identify legal horn from the poached horns. It should be illegal to have rhino horn in your possession unless you are a registered rhino owner. In the present climate the risk of being apprehended and prosecuted is by far outstriped by the rewards offerd by the unscrupulous middleman... These poachers and their middlemen should be hunted down with the passion and perseverance the poachers themselves display.

It is essential to be more advanced than the poachers, not to simply match their equipment. This will require huge injections of effectively administered funding. Here's hoping that the next handover of funds to the Unite against Poaching trust will go some way to ensuring we tackle this war against poaching head on....

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