To many, this posting may not have much to do with my core focus but there are many things that get my blood boiling: Abuse of kids and the elderly, murder, armed robbery, unacceptably high violent crime levels, the ruthless exploitation of Africa and poaching...
Of late, there has been an alarming rise in poaching in South Africa, especially rhino poaching. Indeed, the black-market demand for rhino horn has led to concerns that the current rate of killings will soon outstrip the births of rhino.
In Asia, the rhino horn is famed for its so-called medicinal powers and the demand keeps growing. This demand has, in turn, pushed up the price of the rhino horn making it a highly valued commodity and the rhino a method of making money quickly. The national game parks and smaller game reserves are all targets at present – and usually easy targets at that.
As South Africa is considered to be the last stronghold of a viable rhino population in Africa, this has made the country a prime target for this despicable poaching. According to the International Rhino Foundation, South Africa has already lost more than 31 rhinos to poachers this year.
The situation has become so bad that recent reports stated that the poachers were now even using helicopters to deploy their shooters. If this is not a cause for concern, then nothing is.
Gone are the days of the past where these poachers used home-made weapons. Nowadays, the poaching of rhinos is controlled by highly organised crime syndicates who use high-powered rifles, veterinary drugs, night vision equipment, helicopters, body armour and trackers to hunt their unsuspecting prey.
At last some action is being taken. A local radio station (www.jacarandafm.com) has put their money where their mouth is and began a campaign to generate awareness of the siege the rhinos are under as well as to collect funds towards stopping this crime.
A website to generate further understanding (www.stoprhinopoaching.com) was also created to raise awareness of the rhino’s plight as lately we are losing about a rhino a day to these murderous scum. In conjunction with Radio Jacaranda, the local radio station, a special 12-hour “rhinothon” was launched on 10 September to generate funds from the public who wish to get involved in stopping this.
Whereas all of these initiatives are a step in the right direction, it is shocking to learn that rhino poachers who are caught in the act, are merely allowed out of custody on bail. Five of them recently caught in the act, were given bail of a mere SA Rands 10 000 (approx US$ 1350). Looking at history, it is unlikely that they will turn up on the day of their hearing. Instead they will most probably merely “disappear” and continue with their poaching elsewhere. These particular scumbags have already been linked to 8 more cases of rhino poaching in an area known as Makhado. With that type of legal action, the poachers remain the winners.
There is a time for everything and the time is long past to start hunting the poachers and giving them no mercy when finding them. If they are allowed to continue with their actions, South Africa will no longer be home to the Big Five – instead we will only have the Big Four. That sad day is coming if drastic action is not taken.
I, like many of my like-minded friends, would have no compunction in hunting and taking armed action against these criminals and their paymasters.
Although systems are being put in place to prevent the poaching of rhino, it remains to be seen just how effective they will be.
However, if aggressive action is taken, relentless follow-up operations conducted and directed fire aimed at them, I am sure that any rhino poachers will think twice before carry out their orders.
If we turn the hunter into the hunted, the rhino horn will soon lose its lustre and we will be able to save these magnificent creatures.