Posts Tagged With: crime

The commonality of Rangers and Poachers

Why do poachers poach? For the money of course. Desperation fuels the need. South Africa’s current unemployment rate sits at 25%, one of the highest in the world. While Mozambique’s is at 17%.

With Kruger National Park right in the middle, this makes for the most unfortunate situation for our rhinos. With just one horn, these men stand to better their families forever.

Rhino in Kruger via Giltedge Africa

Rhino in Kruger via Giltedge Africa

Youth unemployment is especially low; in 2013 it was as high as 63%. With underlying issues of a high drop-out rate in schools and a lack of experience and skills, these people have little chance of successfully finding a job.

The majority of South Africans who commit crimes, including poaching are married and unemployed who never complete standard 8 education. 

A number of government initiatives for education and unemployment have been issued in the last few years, but it seems too late for the current generation.

Ironically the reason poachers poach is the same reason rangers do what they do. For a source of income.

 As Ken Maggs, the head of the environmnetal crimes unit in SANParks explains about rangers,  “You’ll get some individuals that are really heart and soul conservationists, but generally speaking, it is a job, and jobs are not easy to come by,” says Maggs, “To have a job is really important.”

When asked, most poachers would choose a safer, more reliable method of bringing home a paycheck if there was an option.

 As one local poacher explained: “I don’t bear a grudge against the rangers. We’re all just trying to do the best for our family. If I was offered a job as a ranger, I wouldn’t have to poach.” But, the fact is that there just are not enough jobs to go around.

The reality is communities are fighting against one another in a war in which there are no winners. They’re trying to put food on the table for their families, while the wealthy do as they’ve always done; the Asians following a pointless trend of horn, the politicians turning a blind eye and basking in their own luxuries. And of course, an innocent species caught in middle.

President Zuma's home complete with amphitheater and pool.

President Zuma’s home complete with amphitheater and pool.

 

*Mediterranean Journal of Social Science:Crime and Unemployment in South Africa; Revisiting an Established Causality: Evidence from the Kwazulu Natal Province  N.G. Tshabalala, PhD 

*The human victims in the fight over rhino poaching in Africa by: Kenichi Serino

 

 

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URGENT: Please Help Bring Rhino Poachers to Justice

Kingpin poaching leader Hugo Ras, and his nine co-accused  have been charged with no less than 318 charges regarding their involvement in rhino poaching and related crimes. These people are REPEAT OFFENDERS; they are believed to be responsible for the brutal slaughter and mutilation of 24 rhino, including a pregnant cow and a small calf, in state and privately owned reserves around the country between June 2008 and June 2012.

Hugo Ras

Hugo Ras, serial rhino killer

They were arrested Friday by South African’s Priority Investigation Unit, the Hawks. A spokesperson for the group, Paul Ramaloko called the syndicate’s operations the “serial killing” of rhino.

Via Allison Thompson from OSCAP (Outraged South African Citizens Against Poaching), here is a list of the accused:

ras and coconspirators

Ras and his co-conspirators in court.

1. Hugo Ras (Ringleader)
2. Trudie Ras (wife of Hugo)
3. Mandla Magaguka (poacher)
4. Willie Oosthuizen (Organized Crime)
5. Joseph Wilkinson (Attorney)
6. Jacobus Steyn aka Bonnie Steyn (Pilot)
7. Abraham Johannes Smit (Trudi Ras’s brother)
8. Christopher Scheepers aka Mathys (Free State guy)
9. Anton Ras (brother of Hugo)
10. Willem van Jaarsveld (still trying to work out who and what he is).

All the accused are currently in custody as the case was postponed, at the request of the state. BUT we urgently need YOUR help! The accused have the means to flee the country should they be granted bail. Please see the following petition to ask the court to deny Ras and his gang bail. IT WILL ONLY BE AVAILABLE FOR A SHORT TIME. PLEASE SIGN AND SHARE IMMEDIATELY.

DENY BAIL to alleged POACHING KINGPIN HUGO RAS and his co-conspirators 

For more on Ras and his crimes, see Julian Rademaker’s excerpt from Killing for Profit: http://killingforprofit.com/2014/09/22/rhino-syndicate-ringleader-arrested/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Good News, Making a Difference, Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

South Africa’s Latest Embarrassment in Poaching Saga

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!

Terri Stander

Terri Stander

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 populationsinternational collaboration and intervention, and bolstering existing interventions.  One of those existing interventions included Improved intelligence gathering and analysis capability.

SA police service timeslive

photo: Gallo

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?

rhino poaching stats SA

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Got 99 Problems but the Rhino Ain’t One

beautifulafricawildanimalspets.com rhinos

As rhino activists hell-bent on their survival, it’s difficult to understand that out of all countries on the Earth, why South Africa isn’t more involved in their salvation? The majority of all rhinos survive there, so it would seem logical for them to be more proactive.

But, looking more closely at the country and government itself, they are plagued with pressing issues.

HIV/AIDS

As with many African countries AIDS is a perpetual concern. The SA HIV/AIDS rate is at 17.8% (one of the highest in the world) 2 million South Africans have been killed by it.

aids sa graph 2014

                                                           

Education

The country has a two-tiered education system. There seem to be few good schools; and those are fiercely competitive and expensive, assuring only the wealthier children a good education.

In 2013 although 78% of public school students passed their final, 31% had grades good enough to qualify for universities. The rest are faced with an uncertain future as unemployment runs high.

Unemployment

The current rate of joblessness stands at 24%. Youth unemployment (under 25) stands at a staggering 65%!

A decade ago, a person with a high school degree had a 50 percent chance of getting a job. Today, that figure is 30 percent. According to South Africa’s Labour Force Survey, for the last quarter of 2013, two-thirds of all unemployed South Africans were under the age of 35.

SA unemployment

SA’s unemployed look for jobs.

Poverty

From the crisis of unemployment and education, poverty is born. The division between rich and poor is one of the widest in the world. Although SA is not as stricken as many African countries, 4 million people are living at or below the poverty line.

Crime

The cities of Maseru and Cape Town have the distinction of being on the 10 cities with the highest murder rates list.

The overall murder rate in the nation is 31.9 per 100,000 people, 30 times that of Great Britain. For police it’s 51 out of 100,000. For farmers, who are overwhelmingly white, the rate soars to 99 out 100,000.

And that is part of another issue-the racial divide. The attacks on South African farmers make it twice as dangerous to be a farmer than a police officer. While the government has argued that there is no evidence of organised attacks, white farmers believe these attacks are evidence of a campaign to drive them off their land.

Zuma/Political Corruption

The extent of all of these economic and human issues, as with any country, is controlled by its leadership. There is no Mandela in South Africa. There is only Jacob Zuma.

zuma and wife in dc

Zuma with one of his wives in front of the White House for the US Africa Leaders Summit.

Zuma is a president who seemingly spends more time and money on his own interests and family than on the people of the country. Suspicions are he has spent tax payer money on his private home improvements and additions, totalling approximately $23 million dollars.

He has fanned the flames of racial division, and has had charges of corruption, fraud, rape and unethical conduct brought against him. They all seem to eventually get dropped. Yet the level of distrust remains.  Is it any wonder with a man whose middle name, Gedleyihlekisa, means “the one who laughs while he endangers you”?

Zuma recently told a US audience that Israel and Palestine should take advice from South Africa about resolving their violent conflict. Although at rally parties he sings and dances to his signature song, “Awuleth’ Umshini Wami,” or “Bring Me My Machine Gun.”

And in the middle of it all-THIS is where our rhino resides.

sabi sabi rhino

Although there is always hope for change, let’s face it- our rhino is NOT the priority to the SA government. It is not something South Africa can tackle on it’s own. It will take a global effort to fight and win this war.

Petition: President Zuma & Minister Molewa-Stop all hunting of Kruger Nat Parks Big Game

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Poaching: Its Killing More Than “Just Animals”

A reason to be concerned about the poaching crisis in Africa, besides the danger of extinction to elephants and rhinos, is the effect on people. At $19 billion per year, the illegal wildlife trade is a lucrative international crime.

EarthThe wildlife trade includes not only the slaughter of the elephant and rhino for their ivory and horns, but the slaughter of great apes and tigers for meat and pelts, as well as the smuggling of exotic birds and other animals for pet sales.

tusksPeople worldwide have turned to poaching as the desired moneymaker over other options, because the payoff is tremendous and the penalty is minimal; a criminal’s dream.  Rhino horns are worth more than cocaine or gold. Whereas the penalty is generally a fine and little or no jail time. Arrests often don’t even lead to convictions.

It is most often the average citizen poaching to support his family (not the organized higher-ups/kingpins) who gets caught.

Although poaching, which is part of the illegal wildlife trade, is ranked fifth in the world, it is used as a means to fund other criminal agendas, such as the top three (see above graphic).

Rebel and militia groups, criminal syndicates, and even terrorist organizations are using the lucrative black market  to finance their operations,

One example is The Lord’s Resistance Army, which has kidnapped hundreds of boys and girls across central Africa to be fighters and sex slaves, are participating in this illegal trade. Another is thought to be Janjaweed militia from Sudan, who allegedly killed 86 elephants (including pregnant females) in one week.

At one of the highest levels of the rhino horn trade chain, are the leaders of Asian run syndicates that monopolize the flow hornsof horn from South Africa to Asian markets. These individuals are the “kingpins” of the trade, often using different people to front as bogus hunters in rhino trophy hunts.

For a clearer picture of the process and the far-reaching implications of poaching and illegal wildlife trade, see the following IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) graphic:

IFAW: The Implications of the Illegal Wildlife Trade

In addition to funding the sex trade, drug cartels and terrorist groups,  poaching activity puts wildlife officials and their families in mortal danger as well. There have been at least 1,000 park rangers killed in 35 different countries over the last decade alone.

Every 15 minutes an elephant is killed.

Each day, 2-3 rhino are slaughtered.

At least 1 tiger a day is butchered.

Of course there’s no way to tell how many people die as a result from the poaching and trade, directly or indirectly through funding of the other lucrative crime it supports.

With far-reaching consequences to human and animal life, as well as the environment, we as individuals need to demand our governments bring an end to the organizations behind this tragedy. Once our animals go extinct, it won’t be long until it is our turn.

ele and rhino friends“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”
Chief Seattle

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

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