Every Friday Ayesha Cantor scours the web for rhino news and facts, this week the little kingdom of Swaziland and Ted Reilly’s impact on its king.
SWAZILAND and the Rhino
[To protect the rhino no current population stats published here]
Both black rhino and white rhino were absent from Swaziland for nearly 70 years until in 1965, when the first pair of white rhinos returned to Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. Black rhino were reintroduced into Swaziland in 1986. Since 1992, just three rhinos have been killed by poachers in Swaziland (two in 2011, and one recently in 2014). According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Swaziland’s rhino protection is unmatched by any other country.
This came about largely as a result of the Game Act, a highly effective piece of conservation legislation that was initiated and drafted by Ted Reilly, approved by King Mswati III and passed into law by Parliament. If you poach or attempt to poach one of the specially protected species you will go to jail. There’s a minimum of five years imprisonment, which could be increased to 15 years. There is no option of paying a fine to get off your jail sentence. On top of the perpetrators jail sentence, the prescribed value of the rhino poached must be paid back to the owner of the animal. And if you can’t, then an additional 2 years is added to your jail term. Anti-poaching legislation in Swaziland is preventative legislation – not remedial legislation.
Swaziland prefers not to put people in jail and they want to keep their rhinos alive. People say the law is draconian, but it’s worked. The Game Act has kept people out of jail, and it’s kept rhinos alive, so everyone wins.
Swaziland also have excellent intelligence in the communities, and authorities are almost always aware of where the poachers are, and what they are doing. There is a standing public offer of E50 000 reward for any information that leads to the conviction of a poacher, and this has been very effective.
Question – Scott Ramsay: “What’s your opinion on the current rhino situation, especially in South Africa, including Kruger National Park?’”
Answer – Ted Reilly: “The first place you ever look when you have poaching is internally. You look at the people in the parks, the rangers, the managers and the military. Poaching of rhinos cannot happen without local knowledge. And I’m sure that some rangers, military and conservation staff are complicit in the rhino poaching.”
Ted Reilly (Now 75 years old, Ted has worked his whole adult life for the protection of the Kingdom of Swaziland’s wildlife and its natural habitat.)
For Scott Ramsay’s full interview with Ted Reilly, and some great photos, visit My Year in the Wild.
Contributed by Ayesha Cantor