Worries over Eastern Cape rhino
Mariska Spoormaker, Die Burger
Port Elizabeth - While Limpopo's rhino poaching case has the country up in arms, Eastern Cape conservationists are getting nervous about the safety of rhinos in their province.
"It cases like this it's never just one syndicate that is operational," explained Sybert Liebenberg, acting head of the EC Parks and Tourism Agency.
But there have only been a few isolated cases of rhino poaching in the Eastern Cape so far.
Liebenberg believes this is partly due to the fact that the province has far more black rhinos than it has white rhinos.
"The black rhino is a far more shy animal which hides in dense bush and is therefore much more difficult to find."
But a highly effective network between rhino owners, the defence force, police, agencies and the provincial department of environmental affairs, also benefits the safety of rhinos in the Eastern Cape, Liebenberg added.
"There are excellent conservation officials such as Div de Villiers and Jaap Pienaar who are 100% on top of matters. Whatever information they receive is immediately passed on to security forces so they can be proactive," he said.
Another preventative measure is not to release the number of rhinos or their locations in the province.
"We shouldn't be advertising to poachers.
"The province's parks board doesn't even mention rhino numbers in its annual reports," Liebenberg explained.
He hopes the Limpopo rhino case will send the right message, "namely that the cost of poaching a rhino is much higher than the profit to be gained."
"We are committed to the conservation of a wide spectrum of species and the maintenance of biodiversity for the sake of future generations.
"And poaching is a crime against future generations," he added.
Besides the animal's suffering, there is also the economic crime, since poaching always has a "domino effect".
"People visit parks for the variety of animals, plants and birds. Take that away and who will want to visit the park?
"Who would want to risk investing in such stripped businesses?"