Illegal dog hunting on the rise

2016-11-09 06:01

DOG hunting has become a growing and serious concern for the Tala Collection Private Game Reserve, farmers, land owners, conservancies and wildlife sanctuaries, who are fighting against organised illegal hunting.

Using the cover of darkness as their camouflage, poachers gain access to farm properties, and use highly trained dogs to chase wild animals to the property boundaries where they are shot by handlers lying in wait.

According to Tala Game Reserve, poachers mainly target small to medium antelope, including nyala, kudu and even warthog, however, there have been other cases reported in the upper Highway area where zebra, wildebeest, ostrich and giraffe also fall victim to the illegal hunting parties.

While hunting has always been in existence, it has become an emotional issue in recent years.

“We cannot allow this to continue. The numbers of wildlife are being depleted, some species like oribi are being driven to the point of extinction, with the risk to our wildlife heritage for future generations.

“At Tala the major impact is financial. Being a game reserve, the public come to view the animals. If these numbers dwindle it will impact on the visitors’ experience.

“Depending on the animals’ breeding success every year, excess numbers are sold to other reserves and farms, thereby generating additional revenues to improve the reserve,” said Mike Nunan, general manager at Tala.

The illegal hunters target farms stretching from Howick to Pinetown.

Dog handlers caught trespassing claim they are fetching their dogs, who have wandered onto the property in error.

Landowners are therefore unable to press charges, except for trespassing.

“Patrols and fence checks are carried out where possible, but without extensive resources it is very difficult to successfully tackle and combat the problem.

“We have the Rave Wildlife and Rhino­ Project on site at Tala, who protect our rhino.

“Their presence on four-wheelers acts as a deterrent, as do their night-vision equipped vehicles. Their focus is on rhino movements, which is not necessarily where the poachers operate.

“We are in talks with the KZN Parks Honorary Rangers, who will hopefully patrol the property at night, on the lookout for hunting dogs and handlers,” said Divan Vermaak, Tala Reserve manager.

The public, who has any information about the illegal dog-hunting teams, are urged to contact Nicholas Zungu on 078 555 9646.

All information will be treated as confidential.

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