Rhino toll rises

2010-08-06 00:00

YET another rhinoceros has been killed for its horn in the province, this time inside the Imfolozi Game Reserve near Hluhluwe, raising the countrywide toll of rhino killed by poachers to 158.

The number of poached rhinos has risen by six in just one week based on figures that were released by SA National Parks (SANParks) on July 29.

Confirming the latest incident yesterday, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife investigator and vice chairperson of the KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife Crime Working Group, Rod Potter, told The Witness that the greater tragedy is that the carcass found by rangers on Wednesday was a black rhino cow.

Black rhino are far more rare than white rhinos, although poachers do not differentiate.

According to SANParks, the white rhino population in 2009 stood at 19 409, while the black rhino population stood at 1 678.

Potter said yesterday he also had confirmation that another two white rhino were poached in North West Province during the past week.

Potter said a postmortem was conducted on the fresh carcass of the black rhino cow — found minus its horn — at Slevane in the south west section of Imfolozi on Wednesday to establish if the animal had been shot or dar­ted.

At this stage the cause of death is still undetermined.

He said some of the rhino’s organs would be sent for forensic analysis.

Conservation bodies throughout the country have expressed alarm at the unprecedented onslaught on the rhino population by well-funded poaching syndicates armed with high tech equipment and, in some cases, scheduled veterinary drugs used to dart and subdue the animals.

Sapa meanwhile reports that Animal Rights Africa (ARA) has criticised the fact that welfare and anti-cruelty legislation is never invoked in rhino poaching incidents.

ARA alleges this is because rhinos are “treated as tradable commodities”.

“At the very least, 300 rhinos will die horrible and painful deaths in South Africa in 2010,” said ARA spokesperson Michele Pickover.

* Meanwhile, the Wildlife and Environment Society of SA (WESSA) has embarked on an initiative to raise funds to fight rhino poaching. The organisation urged the public to donate to the cause by SMSing “Rhino” to 40706 or via its website www.wess.org.za.

The KZN Wildlife Crime Working Group is holding an annual wine tasting evening at Liberty Midlands Mall on September 3 to help fund its battle against all wildlife crime, including rhino poaching.

Tickets are R70 per person.

AN anti-poaching symposium, the first of its kind in the province, is being held today at KwaMbonambi.

According to KZN Democratic Alliance MPP Radley Keys, who serves on the province’s conservation portfolio committee, the symposium will bring together environmentalists, representatives from KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife, SAPPI and MONDI, private landowners, members of the SAPS and the NPA. “The primary objective is to ensure that all role players are actively involved and improve co-ordination of the fight against poaching. A second objective is to highlight the serious nature of this issue.”

Keys said the symposium was an attempt to complement work carried out by KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife and other organisations fighting the scourge of poaching.


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