Betrayed! Rhino Sold to Save Haven – Trophy Hunting Farms?

Kruger National Park no longer the jewel reserve of South Africa, rhino sold instead of protected from poachers.

White Rhino

Peter Milton (founder of Strategic Protection of Threatened Species) Speaks Out…

The news that a large number of Kruger Park rhinos are being moved to privately owned hunting farms has come as a major shock in conservation circles.

Late last year, it was widely believed that SanParks, Kruger National Park (KNP) and the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) were considering the option to move Kruger rhinos – which are being slaughtered at an alarming rate – to “safe locations” in order to protect them from poaching and to ensure strength of the gene pool.

Whilst many could not understand why the government simply refuses to demand of the Mozambique government that it immediately takes steps to prevent its citizens of committing poaching atrocities inside South Africa (other than to have them sign an “MOU” ), it seemed like a reasonable option to consider.

Numerous proposals were put forward to DEA, KNP and Sanparks in this regard…including the option of moving rhinos out of South Africa into safe locations for a 10 or so year period. The rhinos would remain the property of KNP/Sanparks. This option was turned down as Sanparks/DEA wanted payment for the rhinos.

Until very recently, Minister Edna Molewa was often on record as saying that no rhinos would be moved from Kruger.

In June, the surprise immediate suspension of Hector Magome the Sanparks head of conservation was announced. Magome has subsequently taken the suspension to arbitration….but many wondered why he had been summarily suspended and why a number of other very sudden resignations took place.

It is now apparent, that SanParks signed contracts late last year with certain parties to sell and relocate rhinos. The bulk of these rhinos would be sold and moved to private reserves in the Northern Cape. Alarm bells start ringing??…sure, but not to be bad so far.

Then it turns out that contracts have been signed with 3 hunting outfits!! These hunting outfits are Chapungu Safaris, Wintershoek Safaris and Steyn Safaris.

The price for the 260 rhino?…..R 80,000,000.

Minister Molewa has now done a 360′ turn and announced that relocation of rhino’s will take place. She expands on this by saying that the reasons for these “relocations” is to ensure that the rhinos are protected. Many private owners are saying that they simply don’t have the money to ensure 24/7 protection of their rhinos….so this “reasoning” of hers seems curious. Furthermore, does it make sense to attempt to secure the safety of rhinos by moving them to hunting outfits?  Who will get them first….the poacher or the hunter?

Between the Buffett Foundation and the Dutch Lottery, some R 500 million has been donated to SanParks/KNP to combat rhino poaching.

In addition to all of the questions which we raise regarding this state of affairs, let us consider one more….what does this do to the morale of those who every day are fighting, with their lives, for the rhino species?. Whilst boardroom deals are done and huge money changes hands, there are those who earn very little who are laying their lives on the line…how do they feel?

My heart bleeds for the people that I know in Kruger, the people whose commitment knows no bounds….and there are a number of them, from high ranking to ranger….they must feel shattered, let down and used. For them to see animals that they have protected with their lives, simply moved away to potentially be hunted, must leave them asking themselves many questions – and right now, they simply get no answers.

We have said it before and we will say it again….Without international political will and direct effort, rhino and many other species are doomed.

How long can the world watch these developments and do nothing other than posture and dialog. CITES, where are you?…and Carte Blanche, why aren’t you telling your viewers the real story – or have you too have become a puppet?

Please share this far and wide…SPOTS has good legal representation and we can back all of this up. The world has to know what is really happening to ITS rhinos….these rhino do NOT belong to the RSA government or to Sanparks or to the KNP, they belong to all of us and, more importantly, they belong to our further generations. We simply cannot continue to let them down.

Straight from the Lady herself…

How we plan to deal with rhino poaching crisis – Edna Molewa, Environmental Affairs Minister of South Africa

UPDATE (08/23/14)

Sounds like SANParks and the related government officials may have had a change of heart? Saying that the window to move the rhino has closed they will not be relocated at the present time.

“We have missed the window to remove the animals because it is now getting warmer. The best time to move them is in winter,” spokesman Isaac Phaahla told Sapa.

Did public outrage get to them? We can only hope so. However, its not over for these rhino. We can only hope that people like Peter Milton, Vincent Barkus and the many other ranger and anti-poaching units can keep them safe.

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5 Responses to Betrayed! Rhino Sold to Save Haven – Trophy Hunting Farms?

  1. Anne Gornitzka August 23, 2014 at 6:19 am #

    Sanparks, you deserve every bit of the bad publication, anger and disgust from us South Africans for this.
    Hope your heads hang in SHAME and you are really lucky to still have them on your shoulders.
    Is this a “greed” decision???? Would love an answer!!!

    • Wildlife Margrit August 23, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

      Not on the same issue, but definitely related as it involves trophy hunting and selling out… this time in Zambia.
      Via Lynda Corkum on Facebook:

      Apparently the Safari Club International met with the Zambian government when they first imposed the ban… and “educated them” about how trophy hunting helps their economy….

      From the Safari Club International:
      FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 21, 2014

      Washington D.C. – Today, Zambian Tourism and Arts Minister, Jean Kapata, announced that the ban on hunting, which was enacted in January 2013, has been lifted. Safari Club International (SCI) and SCI Foundation maintained that the ban was counter-productive to the conservation needs of Zambia, and today’s decision should be heralded as a win for sustainable-use conservation.

      “SCI and SCI Foundation commend Minister Kapata on his decision,” said SCI Foundation Joe Hosmer. “Like most range states, Zambia relies on hunting revenue for most of their conservation funding, so maintaining sustainable hunting is crucial to their wildlife’s survival.”

      When the ban was initiated in January 2013, SCI and SCI Foundation immediately met with the Zambian government officials educating them on the commitment of the hunting community to sustainable use conservation. These meetings set the course for today’s policy reversal.

      Though cat hunting is still banned, the lifting of the ban is in response to Zambia’s attempt to diversify its economy. Copper currently monopolizes two-thirds of its foreign exchange earnings and the government hopes that reintroducing regulated hunting across the country will stimulate its economy and encourage conservation of its wildlife.

      “Regulated, sustainable hunting gives additional value to wildlife and ensures that governments dedicate the necessary resources toward wildlife management,” SCI President Craig Kauffman said. “Zambia is a country with diverse and plentiful wildlife populations. Lifting the ban will produce multiple opportunities for Zambia to capitalize on this resource and provide sustainable, healthy populations for years to come. “

      Zambia has stated that the ban on cat hunting will remain in effect until a survey on lion population numbers is complete. Currently SCI Foundation is funding a Zambia Lion Project (ZLP) to assist with this information. The ZLP is conducting genetic and demographic research to assess the current status of lions, and to develop and promote practices that ensure the long- term sustainability and health of Zambia’s lion populations. These best practices for wildlife management will be discussed at this year’s African Wildlife Consultative Forum (AWCF) as they are crucial in ensuring sustainable hunting is possible.

  2. Lynda Corkum August 25, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

    For some of these countries it seems like a “race to the finish line” to make as much money from their wildlife as they can before it’s gone!!!!!

    • Wildlife Margrit August 25, 2014 at 2:41 pm #

      Sadly Lynda it really seems that way.

  3. Carl Bolus August 26, 2014 at 3:07 pm #

    This is sad

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