Keeping rhinos safe in the bush is tedious, exhausting work. Rangers spend long hours in the elements, patrolling vast areas on foot, putting themselves at risk every day.
Wouldn’t it be nice if it were easier? Too bad there’s not a list of known poachers on a website or in a book somewhere. Oh wait…there is!
South Africa’s DA shadow Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, Terri Stander stated that intelligence is a weakness for SA in the fight against poaching. Holding up a list, Stander said:
“Why is it that I can have a list of 72 suspected poachers in my hands, but not one of these have been properly investigated let alone convicted? You can even call them on the listed telephone numbers.”
Yet one more embarrassment on the backs of the South African government. Money exchanging hands to sell rhino to hunting outfitters, money unaccounted for from the Dutch lottery, translocation plans made only to fall through, as the “window of opportunity” was missed, now this. Where does it end?
“Our rhino are dying because of ineffective systems — a lack of the required political will, alleged complicity in poaching by security and policing services, lack of information sharing between our enforcement agencies and judicial sanction that is not yet swift or severe enough,” Stander said.
In Edna Molewa’s rhino poaching statement in early August, the “Strategic Management of Rhino” was announced. It calls for managing rhino populations, international collaboration and intervention, and bolstering existing interventions. One of those existing interventions included Improved intelligence gathering and analysis capability.
Part of the solution has been to create a special investigation unit as a branch of the South African Police. It will ONLY focus on rhino poaching. All operational members of this unit, which are made up of all detective heads of the member countries, are situated and operating at the borderlines.
Molewa said “It is the SAPS’ hope that there would be better communication and collaboration between government departments and to improve database systems sharing..”
Now that this unit exists, what will happen with that list?