Posts Tagged With: Kruger National Park

Hunting Outfitters Involved in Poaching

From Down the Rabbit Hole by Oxpeckers 2013:

Rogue South African trophy hunters are directly involved in ‘a mad scramble’ to poach rhinos and get their horns out of the Kruger National Park, according to reliable intelligence sources. The horns are sold illegally, which is facilitated by layers of corruption among customs officials and Mozambique’s politicians. By Fiona Macleod & Estacio Valoi

Documents in the possession of Oxpeckers show the errant trophy hunters are supplying Mozambican poachers with ammunition and helping them to sell the horns illegally. They manage to avoid apprehension by bribing local officials and courting influence with Mozambican politicians.

Oxpeckers 1

The southern border of the Kruger National Park. Rangers arrested eight poaching suspects along the Crocodile river in August 2015


The hunters run safari outfits along the south-eastern border of the Kruger, and they gain access to the park through gaps in the fence between the two countries. They cannot be named owing to the seriousness of the trafficking allegations against them.

They operate in the vicinity of Corumana dam and the former Magud headquarters of Mozambique’s Renamo movement. Corumana dam is a popular destination among birders and fishers, and is being expanded to supply water to Maputo about 30km away.

“During the day Corumana is serene, but at night you hear the traffic of boats with engines plying their illegal trade. There is a mad scramble to get as many rhino horns out of the Kruger Park as possible,” said a fisherman who visited the area recently.

Independent intelligence sources have been monitoring the hunting operators since 2011. They say they have passed their information on to anti-poaching authorities in South Africa, but have received no feedback on whether it has been followed up.

Confidential documents reveal that the kingpin is a safari outfitter with a hunting concession close to Corumana dam. He regularly hunts wildlife without permits, according to intelligence, and smuggles animal trophies and rhino horns in a hidden compartment of his vehicle.

The documents implicate him directly in the poaching of rhinos in southern Kruger and the smuggling of their horns to Maputo and South Africa. He is also accused of bribing the local police chief to drop charges against poachers working with him.

Other hunters fingered in the investigation since 2011 include a safari outfit previously caught luring lions out of the Kruger for “canned” hunts, and another outfit previously implicated in ivory smuggling in Namibia. The network has formed strategic alliances with politicians and prominent business in Mozambique for protection, according to the intelligence.



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Search for the Holy Grail

We’re off to South Africa, home of over 75% of the world’s remaining rhinos. Meetings, discussions, observations; and doing what every other passionate, serious rhino advocate is doing-searching for the holy grail.FFR donation pic

We’re all equipping our rangers, delivering milk to the orphans and trying to educate the masses; standing our ground, constantly searching for THE answer, “the game changer” solution to end the poaching once and for all.

Maybe there isn’t one. But from the APUs, the education campaigns and individual support, we are attacking the crisis from every angle, and we ARE having an impact.

  • In the latest survey in China, 24% fewer people believe rhino horn is a medicinal cure. Education IS working.
  • The number of rhinos poached outside of Kruger National Park has decreased.
  • There have been 51 more arrests than the same time last year.


It’s difficult to get past the photos of faceless, bloodied rhinos and see the hope. But it’s there, and it’s important we take note of it. Without the small steps of progress, this war would be over and not only the rhinos would have lost, but the other wildlife that are in line to be the next “medicine or trophy or status symbol”.

Of course we’ll still be searching for THE elusive final solution, but in the meantime we have our noses to the grindstone and continue to fight for each ranger, for every rhino, and for the preservation of our wildlife. We salute our fellow conservation groups, and are grateful for individuals who advocate for rhinos. Your support keeps the spark ignited, keeps the search going and keeps hope alive.

Keep the faith!

SA trip map

Our itinerary…




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Rhinos moved to ‘Intense Protection Zones’

With over a month left in 2014,  this year already tops last year’s bloody toll of rhino poaching. It’s difficult not to feel a sense of panic at such an astounding rate of slaughter.

rhino poaching stats nov 2014

When confronted with the possibility of rhino extinction, the South Africa DEA’s (Department of Environmental Affairs) response is “Not on my watch”. But what are they doing to prevent it?

With all the questions, doubt and mayhem surrounding the current state of affairs, the plan that remains unchanged is the translocation of rhinos out of Kruger National Park. Two thirds of the rhino poached have been in Kruger. The idea is to move them away from poaching hotspots and create rhino strongholds, where there is intense protection.

The goal is “to basically ensure that you’ve got a foundation of animals that are secure and that you can use as a source population to take elsewhere” according to Markus Hofmeyr, head of veterinary services at Kruger Park.

They are not wasting anytime. 45 rhinos have been moved within the last month. Some have been moved to a highly protected area within Kruger, while others have been settled into other parks and reserves. The initiative will continue with more being moved into 2015.

Rangers assist with translocation AP

Rangers guide a sedated rhino to a truck for move to safe haven. photo:AP

Ironically the war for the ancient, 50 million year old rhinos is being fought with the most modern-day technology. The “intensive protection zones” are manned by rangers and outfitted with high-technology surveillance, including aircraft, drones and microchip monitoring. Although exact details are being withheld for obvious reasons, land and air mobility will be greatly upgraded.

RPA and Gen Jooste

General Jooste (seated in middle) listens as Scott “LB” Williams of RPA (standing left) discusses how technology is changing the game in the poaching war. photo: Justin Leto

The funding will come largely from the historic R255 million donation made by the Howard G Buffett Foundation last March. (see previous post: Dare to Hope)

When asked if the intensive protection zone would make it impossible for poachers to get the rhinos once it is complete, Kruger’s commanding officer in the rhino war, General Jooste commented they would probably “never get them out again”.

In the meantime, it is essential the war be fought outside the park, stepping up law enforcement and working to stop the demand.




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SANParks, the Epicenter of the Poaching War

Helping Rhinos and Fight for Rhinos have teamed up with SANParks (South African National Parks)  in Kruger National Park.

Kruger National Park is home to around 65% of the world’s rhinos.  Devastatingly it is also home to around 60% of the rhino poaching victims in South Africa.

To save the rhino, it is imperative to focus on Kruger, which unfortunately has become the epicenter to the war on poaching. By teaming up with SANParks, we will support their anti-poaching efforts.

n 2013 SANParks launched their Ring-Fenced Rhino Account, meaning that all donations made in aid of rhinos will go directly to cause.

All the fundraising we carry out in the name of SANParks will go directly to their Ring-fenced rhino account, so you can be sure that you are contributing directly to the protection of the largest population of rhinos left in the world today.

London meeting

Meeting with Richard Benyon (centre), the Minister for DEFRA (dept for environment, food and rural affairs UK), Gen Jooste, Simon Jones (Helping Rhinos).

The Kruger Park anti-poaching activity is headed up by Major General (ret) Johan Jooste, and slowly but surely the General’s activities are bearing fruit.  When asked if we are winning the war with the poachers the General is honest enough to respond with “not yet”, but he is confident that the war will be won.  And having spent time with the General at a series of meetings in London (read more about those meetings here) and in the Kruger Park we are confident he will implement the strategies needed to start reducing the number of rhinos poached in the world famous and iconic park.

kruger map

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The Photo Seen Around the World

You want to see rhinos on your holiday? Vacation to Kruger National Park, South Africa-home to 90% of the world’s remaining rhino.

With promise of witnessing Africa’s Big 5, that’s just what a group of Belgium tourists did. On final days of the trip, having seen everything BUT a rhino, they were excited to finally see one of these beautiful elusive rhino come galloping poached rhino in krugerout of the bush, only to realize…

it was moving very slowly towards the vehicle, and when I got the pictures, I looked over my photo equipment and noticed the rhino’s horns were missing.”

“At that moment everybody got very emotional and the rhino disappeared back into the bush. It was at that moment we realised we were seeing something that has never happened before. It’s very emotional for all of us. I couldn’t stop crying. You can’t stop crying when you see something that outrageous”, said Louis Dillen, one of the tourists on the safari.

Horrible, heartbreaking, devastating to bear witness to…BUT is there a bright side to this brutality?

One of the tourists was the personal aide to the Belgian Deputy Prime Minister,Johan Maricou . After the incident, Maricou expressed outrage, stating

 “I urge the South African government to put this at the top of their agenda.”

“…South Africa carries a certain responsibility. But without international co-operation and agreements, especially with Asian countries where the demand is mostly, this is a very difficult issue.”

With poaching rearing its ugly head directly in the face of tourists, especially one so closely connected in the political community, this is a wake-up call. If Kruger, or South Africa itself, wants to continue making profit from tourism, things Must change.

Belgium is aware and watching, and after the photo went viral this past week, so is the rest of the world.

Fresh off the London Summit on Wildlife Trafficking, where 50 countries attended to get serious about putting an end to illegal trafficking, this may be another push toward change.

As horrific and haunting as this must have been, she is one of thousands who have been slaughtered over the last several years;  2-3 a day, every day.

rhino poaching graph 2013

In 2014, there have been an additional 163 poachings so far (OSCAP).

Please be a part of the change. Read, sign and share this petition/proposal to the South African government:              Dehorned Rhino in Kruger: Enough is Enough 

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Game Reserves United : The Heart of Rhino Country

Fight for Rhinos and Helping Rhinos is supportive of Game Reserves United (GRU). GRU  is an alliance of private game reserves on the western border of the Kruger National Park (KNP).

The main purpose of GRU is to establish a reliable and unified intelligence. It is supported by experienced counter-insurgency and counter-intelligence individuals, and closely aligned with law enforcement agencies. This approach is unique and could be the leading example for collaborating landowners when it comes to poaching.

Game reserves united

Since 2008, the private reserves to the west of Kruger have greatly increased their investment into security to help combat the escalating threat of rhino poaching.  This increased investment is not only improving security for rhinos on the Park’s western boundary, but the benefit is spilling over in the Park itself.

So far the project has had the following results:

  1. The number of rhinos poached in the project area has declined by 50% per annum over a three- year period.
  2. Intelligence operations are focused, collaborative and coordinated and the information generated is well-managed across the project area.
  3. GRU works in collaboration with the KNP and other law enforcement agencies.
  4. In partnership with SANParks, promote the creation of additional field ranger positions to be deployed in the participating reserves for improved area coverage.
  5. There is improved communication resulting in improved area integrity management.
  6. Through an MoU with SANParks, there is alignment of the Private Sector’s efforts with those of the KNP to reduce operational discord between the sectors and bring about improved regional integrity

We need your support to continue this project. To support us in the preservation of the rhino,  please see the DONATE buttons on the left or bottom of the page.

rhino in kruger

Photo by: Markgo Djurica/Reuters

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WTH is going on in Kruger?

Kruger National Park: Ground Zero

Out of the rhino poached this year, 550 of them have been killed in Kruger National Park.

In the last five years, a total of 1457 were reported killed in KNP.

83% of the worlds remaining rhinos exist in South Africa,  making Kruger the epicenter for illegal poaching.

“The game is different here at Kruger National Park because the poachers that come from other countries, particularly Mozambique, are armed with AK47s, grenades and axes. They don’t play, these poachers mean business” says Colonel Bolelo, ,who is heading anti-poaching operations at SansPark (who operates Kruger National Park).

autopsy rhino in kruger

Autopsy of a poached rhino at Kruger.

What’s Being Done

In March of 2013, South African National Defence Force (SANDF) deployed 265 soldiers into the Park and around the borders after a plea for help from the South African National Parks (SanParks). The soldiers are there to train, support and backup the rangers.

A new high-tech Gazelle helicopter has been donated to the fight. With high-speed, night vision capabilities, it should make pursuit of poachers easier and quicker.

Previously high-tech, low-speed recon planes were deployed to help track poachers in the region. The Seeker, as it was called, was donated by Paramount, the same group who donated as the Gazelle.

So with the manpower combined with technology, why is poaching still so prevalent?

kruger troops

Soldiers in KNP.

The Crux of the Problem

Size: at 7580 sq mi, there is hardly enough manpower to monitor the vastness of the Park.

Location: Being bordered by areas of high unemployment and poverty (Zimbabwe, Limpopo and Mozambique), the rhino in the Park are like diamonds in a mine waiting to be taken.

Most problematic is Mozambique, which is the origin of the majority of poachers entering Kruger, confirmed last month by former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano. Speaking at the launch of a wildlife preservation foundation in Maputo, he said 70% of rhino killing in South Africa could be attributed to Mozambicans. This is borne out by South African arrest figures in connection with cases of suspected rhino poaching which show that 68% are from Mozambique.

Prosecution: While the forces are working hard to apprehend the poachers, justice is rarely served. According to Colonel Bolelo “Within two months we had over 56 arrests but the dockets got lost. Once the dockets have gone missing the case is over and the suspects are released.” With this level of corruption, poachers are rarely sentenced, and IF they are, the low-level fines and  minimal jail time are not a deterrent.

jail not bail


In the midst of this war, there are rumors of  drones being dysfunctional, soldiers not being deployed at the borders, helicopters not in operation due to funding, and of course the usual suspected corruption.

With that being said, the rhino poaching rate continues to soar, currently reported at 920. Yet, South Africa claims to be able to cut its rhino poaching by 20% next year, according to General Johan Jooste, who heads the Kruger National Park anti-poaching task team.

What will make the difference?

In January, Bolelo will find out  if hot pursuit will be allowed for his troops. While currently rangers and military are not allowed to cross the border into Mozambique (as their laws are different and far more tolerant to poaching) the hot pursuit option will mean approval to track suspected poachers across the international border without fear of reprisal.

Following talks between South Africa and Mozambique,  it is hopeful there will be increased cooperation between the countries which could lead to more arrests and ultimately more convictions.

In addition, cash rewards for information are being offered to the public to the tune of R100 000 for a successful arrest of a suspected poacher, as well as a whopping R1,000,000 for a successful conviction of a poaching syndicate mastermind.

Finally, the Paramount group is promising more donations in the form of ranger training, canine units for tracking, and more technology.

“The war against poaching is not yet won, but we can reduce the figures… it’s an ongoing process,” said  Jooste. “This fight against poaching is not about an individual and success depends on the collective collaboration and commitment from the men and women tasked with the responsibility of conserving our heritage.”

kruger sign

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Can’t sell the Horn, So sell the Rhino

Things continue to get interesting in efforts to save the rhino. This time the South African government’s plan to aide in rhino conservation  is to sell them.

In the past two years, the Kruger National Park (home to the largest rhino population on the planet), has sold more than 170 white rhinos to private ranches across the country. According to Edna Molewa, the Minister of Environmental Affairs, this is a necessary move to improve the white rhino population by establishing smaller groups in different ranches.

In addition to preserving the species, this generates income for the Kruger National Park.

The current rhino death toll stands at 645 for 2013.  The KNP accounts for 381 of them, despite help from the army, helicopters and drones.

But isn’t a rhino living on a ranch  just as vulnerable to poaching as one living in the park?  In addition, how can the motives of ranchers be trusted, especially considering they are the ones who support legalizing the trade in order to turn a profit? Most importantly-WHO is buying the rhino?

white rhino k

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Latest Poaching Stats

rhino jun 2013

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Kruger Rangers Fight Back

Park rangers at Kruger National Park are upping their game. No longer just guides and conservationists, they are being trained in military tactics to fight the onslaught of rhino poachers.

With as many as 60 heavily armed groups of poachers entering the Park during a full moon, it has become so dangerous to rangers, they were forced to undergo paramilitary tactical training just to survive. They are intensely trained to track, ambush, gather intelligence and wage counter-assault operations in the modern warfare to save the rhino, and ultimately themselves.

Kruger Park is THE hotspot for poachers, since the majority of the surviving rhinos dwell there. More than 313 rhino have been poached this year, with 229 of them at Kruger. (See previous post Kruger Park: the Rhino Poaching Hotspot).

ranger in kruger

Kruger park ranger on morning anti-poaching foot patrol.

The good news is that there have been 98 arrests of poachers , 48 at Kruger. Unfortunately arrests are not enough to deter the determined would be poachers. They are becoming more conniving, more advanced and more brazen. Many of the  AK-47 wielding poachers have fought in wars, and are highly trained. As if that weren’t bad enough, many of them have informants on “the inside”, as shown with the previous arrests of  30 game rangers in Mozambique who were responsible for the official extinction of the rhino in that country.

The public is often under the perception not enough is being done to prevent the poaching. Yet, the rangers are constantly fighting to keep up and adapt, in the face of modern poaching. Camouflage  clothing, radio equipment, GPS tracking equipment and sniffer dogs are just some of the new advancements being utilized by the rangers on the frontline of poaching.

There is a necessity for aid in funding to provide resources such as equipment and updated training. In addition there is a constant need for more rangers to serve as foot soldiers in this bloody war.

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