SANParks poaching: Hawks hunt horns

2012-02-29 22:42

Johannesburg - Four SA National Parks (SANParks) officials arrested in connection with rhino poaching will appear in the White River Magistrate's Court on Thursday, the Hawks said.

The four face charges of poaching and defeating the ends of justice, spokesperson McIntosh Polela said.

"The investigations continue... We are still looking for one suspect who we believe has the weapon that was used to kill the two rhino and has the rhino horns."

The four were arrested on Tuesday afternoon after a rhino cow and her calf were found shot and dehorned in the Kruger National Park (KNP) earlier that morning.

"Further investigations into the killing of the two rhino and possibly other rhino poaching incidents in the area are currently being conducted," SANParks spokesperson Wanda Mkutshulwa said.

All four officials were stationed in the Pretoriuskop section of the park, where 11 rhino had been killed since the beginning of the year.

One of the four was a field ranger involved in the ongoing strike at the park. Another was a traffic officer connected to the protection services unit.

The Democratic Alliance welcomed the arrest and action taken by SANParks, saying it was distressing that people tasked with protecting wildlife betrayed their mandate in the worst possible way.

"To prevent the recurrence of such abuse, strong steps must now be taken to vet current staff in the park, and to ensure the comprehensive vetting of all future staff," DA MP Gareth Morgan said in a statement.

Tuesday's discovery brought the total number of rhino killed in the park since January 1 to 43, and nationwide to 80.

Fifty people had been arrested in connection with poaching since the start of the year, said Mkutshulwa.

SANParks chief executive David Mabunda said: "I am personally saddened to discover that some of our own would so callously abuse the confidence and faith that we have entrusted upon them."

KNP spokesperson Gabrielle Venter said in a statement on Friday that a joint meeting between park officials and union representatives would take place on Wednesday in an attempt to resolve the strike.

This was "to consider the extent of salary disparities, where identified, and recommend measures to be implemented to ensure salary parity", she said.

  • luytster - 2012-03-01 00:45

    Give the Squauks the power to investigate all diplomatic baggage, thats where most of it is going out. Revoke diplomatic imunity on all SA diplomats bags. Hell we as tax payers had to spend a fortune recently cause some taxpayers representative refused to have her handbag searched!! Then you will find the big fish.

      booysenm - 2012-03-02 07:50

      Sorry luytster , I have to disagree with you and most of the others. None of the mentioned suggestion would solve the problem the Rhino is facing. The two things that are causing their extinction to take place is 1: Humans and 2: Its Horn. We cannot get rid of humans but we can get rid of their horn. You don't have to be an economist to know that the demand can be reduced by flooding the market with a renewable commodity by dehorning rhino's. This commodity is more valuable than GOLD at the moment. The rhino horn is more valuable than the rhino it self, this is the problem. The only sustainable solution is dehorning. This idea is mostly rejected because government feels it will affect tourism. The question I want to pose is this. If in 10 or 20 years from now the only rhino's in the world can be found in SA, although dehorned wouldn’t that make us a tourist attraction…?

  • John - 2012-03-01 04:30

    Revoke Diplomatic immunity? Noel, what a brilliant idea !!! Obviously everyone can interpretate "Diplomatic Immunity" in his own way. Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations Diplomatic immunity is a form of legal immunity between governments. SA Diplomat in his home country can refuse search, but his/her home authorites can detain and not allowing him/her to departure. The term "Safe Passage" is refering foreign destination to homeland. There is a procedure that needs to be follow and in representation of correct people from his/her local department he/she will be searched in his/her "natural born costume" ...not only handbag. Revoking diplomatic imunity on all SA diplomats as per your words Noel means automatically closing Diplomatic relationships with South Africa. Then you will find the "big fish" between your legs....hahahaha

      Gungets - 2012-03-01 05:40

      John - most countries, including Thailand, China, Vietnam, are signatories to the CITES undertaking to prevent the smuggling of endangered species (live and parts). To revoke the diplomatic immunity on diplomatic bags is not that big a step. If the embassies want to show that they are serious then they will volunteer controlled searches on their bags. At least one diplomatic mission has been fingered - on video - involved in horn transactions.

      John - 2012-03-01 06:51

      I knew that CITES will be mentioned here.... This Convention does not provide arbitration or dispute in the case of noncompliance. Means nothing in end of the day if any country signed or not. It's a matter of good will, or morality over priority. South Africa likes to generalize everything. We always like to drink water when it rains and not to build reservoir to drink when we need. I like those companies and individuals that propsing radars and mobility solutions to prevent rhino poaching, but they too expensive and will be classified as non-efective only for that reason. They good will is admirable, but effectiveness needs to be found. Recently our authorities found a network of hunters and veterinarians involved in rhino poaching business. Those four National Parks officials arrested...and more that will follow....that is effectivnes. Well Done ! Rectify the standards how rhinoceros can be kept in captivity. Demand compliance. Control that. I can point to numerous game farms where everything runs there in god will. Lucky us that some cuckoo didn't found that that springbok horns heals diabetes. I've got a question. If we bust someone that tries to smugle a rhino horns true customs...don't you all think that selling those horns "to raise funds to protect rhinoceros" is just legalizing the trade of horns at government level? I say....protect the rhinos at full speed and power. When gets to borders and will not have chance to stick that horn back.

      Gungets - 2012-03-01 08:02

      John - We have to fight on all fronts, not bet the farm on prevention. If we close the loopholes for export then the demand will drop and we have fewer places to police. Opening dimplomatic bags is one part of the solution, not the silver bullet. Patrolling our reserves another part, but do you have a concept of hos big these reserves are. It is impossible to patrol them. And you link from busting them at customs to selling them ... bit of a leap, don't you think?. If we bring demand to zero we will not need to sell it. I think selling horn to lower prices and make it less attractive is still an evil, just a lesser evil than 500 rhino a year being killed. Fight every front, it's the only way.

      John - 2012-03-01 09:26

      @Gungets I fully agree that this madness must stop at all price. Don't get me wrong. If Diplomats needs to go true scanners but naked...please. I've been exposing my point of view about "Diplomatic Immunity", becouse waving this argument and seeking for horns in any foreign diplomat personal lugage will be a "causa perduta" in less than 24 hrs. There are many ways.....Offer a high rewards for any information that links to poaching. Pay a high premiums to anyone that captures a poachers. Pay the same "black market" price or close for rhino horn to anyone that saved that rhino(s) from poaching. Put maximum jail sentence for any offenders. Create a proper and strong "game farms" standards with government participation and subsidies. Special regulations for rhinos in captivity. Visiting those facilities in regular bases and if standards are not met.....relocate the animals. I know that resrves are big. One of the biggest problem is that we never come to a concrete figures what exactly we need as man power and skils in those reserves. How can we combine differnet groups of animals together to make them in better protection formation against others (and us humans). We know symbyotic relationship of rhinos with tickbird, but maybe we need to go beyond that in find a good partner that can alert or find in reverse order a "good hunt". I don't want to speculate who will be the best partner for rhino, but I'm sure we have experts on this subject.

  • Allan - 2012-03-01 09:53

    Poachers should be executed.

  • Charmain - 2012-03-01 14:39

    I said the other day get rid of all the jappies and chinks and shot the poachers why must they get a change do the RHINO get a break

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