Poachers dealt a heavy blow

2012-09-13 00:00

WILDLIFE officials have seized 28 makeshift poachers’ boats in a “highly successful” bust in the iMfolozi floodplain area of iSimangaliso Wetland Park in Zululand.

The operation was conducted by staff from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife assisted by police and the SA Police Serive Air Wing, iSimangaliso said in a statement.

A ground team using quad bikes and scramblers supplied by the SAPS rounded up the boats while a helicopter circled overhead, pointing out boats hidden in dense vegetation and co-ordinating the operation from the air.

Johan Gerber, head of Ezemvelo’s anti-poaching unit said that within 20 minutes 28 illegal vessels were seized.

iSimangaliso CEO Andrew Zaloumis said: “The large-scale killing of fish and prawns from gill-netting has a direct negative effect on the food supply within the estuarine system.

“It is not sustainable and is literally taking the food out the mouths of legitimate subsistence fishers’ families. It can also impact negatively on tourism and jobs.”

The floodplain is a short distance from St Lucia and Dukuduku and is a known place where poachers hide their boats in dense vegetation and reed beds. From there they enter Lake St Lucia Estuary to set illegal gill-nets for fish and prawns.

In the last month, over two kilometres of gill-nets and four boats were seized in the estuary and two arrests were made.

Turning to rhino poaching, Zaloumis expressed “outrage” at the dehorning of a male black rhino in the Ozabeni section of iSimangaliso on September 3.

A R100 000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the culprits. The person to contact is Dave Robertson at 071 683 3693 or iSimangaliso’s emergency line, 082 797 7944.

• National rhino poaching statistics released yesterday show that 381 rhinos have been killed since the beginning of this year and 199 people arrested.

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