Poaching: Two more rhinos killed in Hluhluwe, helicopter becomes police spy in the sky

2013-02-14 00:00

NEWS from the KZN Rhino Watch project this week is discouraging.

Two more rhino carcasses, with horns removed, have been discovered in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, bringing the total number killed in the province this year to 10.

Countrywide, the toll is more than 80.

Lawrence Munroe, of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, who is based in the park, was asked whether the KZN Rhino Watch chopper is making a difference.

“The project is most certainly working,” said Munroe.

“The helicopter is one of many interventions and we’ve always advocated right from the beginning that the helicopter is not the cure-all.

“However, it adds an advantage that we’ve never had before. Although we have lost two rhinos, what’s important to remember is that we believe that we were successfully able to stop a potential rhino poaching incident.

“The helicopter’s value is being recognised by stakeholders outside of Ezemvelo.

The SA Police Service has formally requested the use of our helicopter for photographing crime scenes. These are all positive things that are being used in evidence in aggravation in court and providing context to the court as to the difficulty of rhino crime scene investigation.”

Munroe said the chopper wouldn’t make special flights for this purpose, but would incorporate photography in the regular patrols it carried out. The police on the crime scene directed the helicopter, and it flew the specialists and their equipment to photograph the scene.

All the evidence gathered in this way is essential when prosecuting poachers.

It’s gut-wrenching work for everyone involved. Losses outweigh the gains and the war is fought without rules of engagement and without conscience by criminals plundering South Africa’s wildlife heritage.

For more information about the project, check out www.ecr.co.za

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