Posts Tagged With: Kruger National Park

Poaching Update

URGENT: 13 rhino were poached this week in Kruger National Park.

The total now stands at 229 killed since January 1st.

rhino poached cartoon

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A Nation Divided; the Rhino Betrayed

Kruger National Park once again is the flash point for rising tension. As more rhino poachers are entering the park from Mozambique, the relations between the country and South Africa are straining. Are authorities in Mozambique doing enough to stop poaching?

kruger mapKruger had taken down existing fences to allow a “peace park” which links Kruger National Park with game parks in Zimbabwe and Mozambique. This park  is the  Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. The theory is to allow game to freely roam in much the way it would have in the time before man’s intervention. This was supposed to be a protected area for the rhino.

Sadly it has only led to their extinction in Mozambique. The numbers of rhino in the Transfrontier Park had recently shrunk to 15, but now they are all gone. The worst part of this tragedy is they were betrayed by the very people assigned to protect them-the rangers. Thirty rangers are being charged with collusion in the rhino deaths.

In what should be the end of a tragedy, it is likely just another endless chapter. Justice is rarely given. The courts barely serve as a deterrent: while killing a rhino in South Africa can attract stricter punishments than killing a person, in Mozambique offenders generally escape with a fine if they are prosecuted at all.

It’s no wonder South Africa tempers are flaring. 
South African National Parks (SANParks) chief executive David Mabunda has called the crisis of rhino poaching a “war situation”, with the   boundary between Kruger and Mozambique proving to be “the weakest line of defence against incursions”.

So what happens now? Should the fence be put back in place? Will it even help? Surely the poachers will venture further into Kruger to butcher the remaining rhinos. With the vastness of a 20,000-square-kilometer (7,700-square-mile) park with a dense lush terrain and only 339 rangers on foot patrol it’s a difficult, if not impossible task to successfully keep poachers at bay as it stands.

Incidentally the rangers were paid  about 2,500 meticais each (about $80)  to direct the poachers to areas with elephants and rhinos. (Game rangers are paid between 2,000 and 3,000 meticais ($64 to $96) a month.) A months worth of pay for the extinction of  a species…

rhino and vultures

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Kruger Park: the Rhino Poaching Hotspot

There have been  227 rhinos poached already in 2013. Of those, 146 have been in Kruger National Park.

Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserve in Africa. Located  in eastern South Africa, it is home to all of the Big 5 game (rhinos, elephants, lions, buffalo, and leopard).

To combat poaching the Park
*employs 650 anti-poaching unit rangers
*has borrowed 2 drones
*utilizes 2 helicopters
*has automated movement sensors along Mozambique
*has a specialized canine unit

Yet with 9 main gates in a 7580 sq mi area, which is an area slightly smaller than New Jersey, poaching is rampant. They are losing more rhino than any other location in Africa; an average of 2 a day in the Park.

kruger mapThe Park is surrounded by countries in which poverty and unemployment are both endemic. Mozambique  is one of the poorest and most underdeveloped countries with 59% of the people living below the poverty line; while Zimbabwe, suffering from a shrinking economy and hyper inflation, has the world’s largest unemployment rate at 95%, and 80%  living below  poverty. Limpopo is fairing only slightly better, but is still one of the poorest areas in South Africa, especially in rural areas.

So is it any wonder the rhino are being stalked like a starving lion after a gazelle? With one horn worth a few hundred (just a fraction of the market value) to the poacher, he can feed his family and then some. That one rhino life is worth less than its horn to them.

Over the last 5 years, authorities have killed 279 Mozambicans involved in illegal rhino hunting. 300 more were detained for poaching during that time. For the Mozambique government its a monstrous problem, especially because of the involvement of members of its own defense and security forces.

Tragically for the rhino, where it lives is why it’s being killed. Economics. Poor men committing the murder out of necessity to fuel the greed of the middle man (criminal syndicate) to supply the ignorant (Asian market); the perfect storm that will spell the extinction of the species if we cannot stop it.

2 rhinos

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