SANParks plans rhino rescue operation

2014-07-20 09:21

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Johannesburg - As the rhino poaching issue intensifies, the Kruger National Park plans a last-ditch effort to evacuate 500 rhino to secret locations in a desperate bid to save the species as it appears rangers might be losing the war against poachers.

According to the Sunday Times, the intention is there to move the rhino but the “rescue” operation itself is at risk due to alleged infighting at South African National Parks (SANParks).

The newspaper reported that of the 500 to be moved, 250 have been sold to private buyers and the remainder are to be moved to a safe location controlled by SANParks. However, the sudden departure of SANParks CEO David Mabunda and the suspension of Dr Hector Magoma, head of conservation services, has halted the rhino rescue plan in its tracks.

Mabunda was relieved of his duties five days before his contract came up for renewal – after 15 years.

This was reportedly followed by a slew of suspensions and cancelled contracts of senior managers and service providers. Among the suspensions was Magoma who was let go last month over allegations of benefitting through the sale and relocation of rhinos.

At the time, SANParks said its managing executive has been put on precautionary suspension. They declined however, to give further details, saying the matter was "not for public consumption".

SANParks spokesperson Reynold Thakhuli did, however, confirm that the contract of Pathfinder, a company involved in the collection of rhino poaching information, had been terminated.

"Pathfinder’s contract has been terminated and as an organisation we are not compelled to give reasons for termination of this contract as it is a matter between client and service provider," he said.

At the time Beeld newspaper reported that the company's contract was valid until February 2016.

The newspaper reported there was infighting at SANParks, which Thakhuli denied.

"We are not aware of any infighting and we would like to refute these claims in the strongest terms," he said.

Read more on:    sanparks  |  johannesburg  |  animals  |  rhino poaching
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