Poachers roam city reserve

2018-09-17 15:45
A giraffe munches on a tasty thorn tree in Bisley Nature Reserve.

A giraffe munches on a tasty thorn tree in Bisley Nature Reserve. (Ian Carbutt)

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Poachers have overrun Bisley Nature Reserve, an environmental gem in the heart of Pietermaritzburg.

Its fences are poorly maintained, resulting in regular escapes by the resident giraffes and zebras as they search for food.

Local conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts have criticised the Msunduzi Municipality for the lack of maintenance of the reserve.

A source within the conservation fraternity, who asked not to be named, said he had heard several gunshots coming from the reserve at night but when the shots were investigated, they could not find anything.

Another source, who also asked not to be named, reported that Bisley patrollers were ill-equipped to deal with the poachers at the reserve.

“Sometimes it will be two patrollers up against 10 armed poachers and a pack of 20 dogs. What can they do?

“The fencing is poorly constructed, and repairs are not permanent, one can simply lift the fence and get through.”

Former Msunduzi mayor Rob Haswell, who is a member of the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Board, said the state of the reserve is “unsatisfactory”.

“I have certainly heard that portions of the fences at Bisley are down and that the animals are escaping, which I have reported to the parks department,” he said.

“I have also heard of poaching which has also been reported.”

Haswell said he understood that there were patrols taking place within the reserve but said “something needs to be done” about Bisley’s current state.

“If Msunduzi cannot manage the reserve, then they should call on other conservation bodies to see if they can better manage the area or maintain the reserve for them.”

When The Witness visited the reserve broken and bent fences could be seen everywhere.

Old fencing that had been removed lay in a tangled mess in several spots in the reserve where fencing had been repaired.

The fencing is attached to wooden poles which can easily be dug out or pulled from the ground within seconds.

Several sources also told The Witness that 11 zebras and three giraffe had escaped from the reserve a few weeks ago and had still not been found.

Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said the park belongs to the municipality and falls under the parks and conservation division.

She said the municipality is aware of the poaching allegations and will be investigating.

She said the reserve is home to around “20 zebras, 15 giraffes, 20 wildebeests, 30 impalas, and [other] buck”.

She said the municipality will tighten up on security and repair fencing to prevent further poaching incidents.

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife spokesperson Musa Mntambo said that while it was noted that poaching had been reported in the reserve, Ezemvelo could not do anything “unless people are prepared to make statements ...”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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