Rhino poaching syndicate on the prowl in S Cape

Police in the Southern Cape believe that a rhino poaching syndicate might be at work in the region.

This follows the discovery of the remains of a bull this week on a farm near Mossel Bay. Despite ample security measures, the poachers killed the rhino 500 metres from the main house.

Police spokesperson Malcolm Pojie says preliminary reports indicate that the rhino was darted before it was de-horned.

“Well, it’s quite clear based on the evidence that we found on the scene that a syndicate might be involved in this horrific death and we’re investigating all those possibilities.”

SA National Parks has launched a new initiative to intensify the fight against rhino poaching

SANParks spokesperson Reynold Thakhuli says anti-poaching techniques have improved as corporations and law enforcement agencies joined the fight. “Everybody is tired of the poaching of our heritage.”

The initiative includes the use of specially trained dogs linked to global positioning systems (GPS), the utilisation of a rhino horn DNA database and an increased number of game rangers.

Three specially trained folkhounds have been brought in to help with tracking poachers on the ground. The dogs would have GPS collars and would be tracked from the air so that when the poachers are cornered, a heavily armed reaction unit would be dropped to arrested the poachers.

“We have also retrained our rangers to be able to handle the armed gangs who kill the rhinos.” He said the training had started to pay-off as 39 people had been arresting. Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa had also approved the recruitment of 150 new rangers. The new rhino horn DNA database was also being used to improve prosecution of poachers and middlemen.

The database will be used to track the origins of rhino horn products in the Asian countries.  Thakuli says SANParks enjoyed huge support from law enforcement agencies. “The country as a whole now must understand that we can only win the fight against rhino poaching if we are a united front,” says Thakuli.

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