KZN Wildlife, conservationists in spat
Durban - Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife has accused conservationists of undermining its efforts, after the conservation body came under fire for putting out a tender to hunt a white rhino bull.
"Conservationists are undermining the community and the role played by conservation," Ezemvelo chief executive Bandile Mkhize said on Thursday.
"If conservationists are concerned by what we are doing they must contact us directly and not go to the media."
The Mercury reported that a rhino conservation campaigner was outraged that Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife had invited hunters to tender to kill a white rhino bull at the Mkuze game reserve, in northern KwaZulu-Natal, to manage numbers of the animals and fund conservation efforts.
Anti-poaching campaigner Simon Bloch was quoted by the Mercury as saying this justification was pathetic, given that close to 500 rhino had been poached this year.
"We should be doing everything in our power to ensure the survival of the species," Bloch told the paper.
Said Mkhize: "We have been doing this for a very long time, it is part of managing conservation, this is a strategy used to manage wildlife."
He said the benefits from the tender would be used to manage reserves and fund any projects local residents had.
Wildlife conservationist Tony Conway, chair of the KZN Rhino Group, supported Mkhize.
"This is a business arrangement. It's been going on in South Africa since 1994. The country is doing well with rhino conservation, we are allowed to have controlled hunting of white rhinos."
According to the Mercury, Ezemvelo invited the holders of hunting licences to bid to kill the rhino, with a minimum of R750,000 being set. The tender was advertised on the internet for two days only.
The package consisted of an identified white rhino, pictures of which were available on request, and two night's accommodation at a lodge.
Bidding closed on December 23, the paper reported.