'Honour rangers targeted by poachers'

2013-07-30 07:35
Game wardens at Mahikeng game reserve struggle to move a 3-ton rhino after it was darted and then marked in order to prevent poaching. (Susan Cilliers, Beeld)

Game wardens at Mahikeng game reserve struggle to move a 3-ton rhino after it was darted and then marked in order to prevent poaching. (Susan Cilliers, Beeld)

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515 rhinos killed in 2013

2013-07-25 09:24

South Africa's rhino population will rapidly decline in the next three years if it is not protected and poaching is not eradicated,. 515 rhinos have already been killed in 2013. Watch.WATCH

Cape Town - Game rangers should be honoured for the work that they do, a game rangers' association has said.

The organisation celebrates Game Rangers day on Wednesday, but has warned that the increase in poaching put their lives at risk.

"Many rangers lose their lives whilst protecting our natural heritage whether it is due to sickness, fire, animal related death or increasingly to armed skirmishes with poachers," said the Game Rangers' Association of Africa.

It reported that in 2012, 41 game rangers in Africa died in the line of duty and called on the public to support them in the work to protect endangered species.

"The Game Rangers' Association of Africa (GRAA) asks the international community to join us in saluting these brave men and women who have paid the ultimate price for conservation by celebrating their lives and indeed their calling on World Ranger Day."

Prince William

Rhino poachers represent one of the most dangerous threats to rangers and in 2013, at least 515 rhino have been killed, on course to almost double the number killed in 2012 at the current rate.

The threat posed by poachers is intended to intimidate game rangers, said the head of the environmental crime investigation unit at the Kruger National Park.

"They would leave signs in the sand near the border telling a specific ranger, 'We're coming for you'. We have to adhere to the rule of the land. They don't," said Kenn Maggs in 2012.

The UK's Prince William recently expressed his support for game rangers.

"On this World Ranger Day, please know that my thoughts are with you and that I, along with so many others, are in awe of your selfless brave work, you have my total admiration," he wrote to the international ranger community.

According to Cites (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), poachers are heavily armed in their determination to kill rhino.

"AK47 assault rifles and 303 calibre rifles have been the most commonly used weapons but, recently, heavier calibre arms (eg .375s and .458s) are now being used," Cites said.

The WWF said that the prosecution of poaching "foot soldiers" would not stem the tide of the illegal activity, largely seen as having a huge demand in Asia.

"At the moment we're mainly hammering these okes on the ground, but they just replicate themselves," World Wide Fund for Nature CEO Dr Morné du Plessis, recently told News24.

As part of the African celebration of Game Rangers day, the GRAA will host a World Ranger Day Family Day on Sunday, 4 August 2013 at Joburg Zoo where the public can interact with game rangers.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter
Read more on:    johannesburg  |  animals  |  poaching

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