Organized crime is poaching Africa’s rhino to extinction partly because law enforcement is neither trained nor organized.
From one of our trusted INTEL and anti-poaching sources we hear that “Experienced Security Operatives” support the belief that Kwazulu-Natal (KZN) Rhino poaching is on the rise due, inexperienced enforcement efforts ignoring the basics of good security practice.
Note the red italicized sections (by our source) of the following article and how they support this sad premise. This situation must be addressed if we have any hope of saving South Africa’s rhino from the poacher’s onslaught.
Security Lapses Aid Rhino Poachers
An Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW) Section Ranger and an Anti-Poaching Unit officer, both from Hluhluwe Game Reserve, have been suspended pending a disciplinary hearing following the discovery of eight poached white rhinos in the Nqumeni area of the reserve on 22 September. Underwriting these suspensions is the organisation’s belief that there is evidence of certain staff having been negligent or failing to carry out their duties in line with Ezemvelo’s Rhino Security Intervention Plan. The reasons for the Bantam aerial surveillance plane being grounded for two weeks is also being investigated. It has been found that the poachers used the public ‘corridor’ road that runs through Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (HiP) for their entry and exit.
Recommendations from the report are that strategically placed electronic surveillance equipment be installed to monitor all persons entering and leaving the reserve. EKZNW CEO Dr Bandile Mkhize said the findings of the organisation’s internal report were preliminary as they would be intensifying their investigations in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies. Specialised units belonging to the SANDF would be deployed into rhino areas, both for training purposes as well as providing further patrol coverage. This has already been implemented in the Kruger National Park. With regard to staff shortages in the field, the report said 10 community field rangers from the Drakensberg would be provisionally deployed to rhino reserves, pending training of new recruits beginning in early 2013. This move is being questioned by conservationists as more able officers have been overlooked and those from the Drakensberg have no ‘Big Five’ game reserve experience. All ‘critical’ staff will in future be required to sign a declaration of secrecy.
• Improving internal security measures, such as expanding and improving on background and criminal record checks for all personnel employed in rhino reserves
• Such vetting, which might include future polygraph testing, would now become regular, starting this week (22 October)
• Radio communication would be improved by providing a separate channel for security personnel
• There was a need for improving leadership and staff motivation
• Conservation managers and section rangers must regularly participate in area coverage patrols
• Clandestine and extended patrols need to be intensified
• Contractors working inside the park, such as those working for the Alien Invasive Plant Programme, would be scaled down and work transferred outside the park. Those remaining inside the park would be required to undergo a security clearance
• As part of the Rhino Intervention Plan, Ezemvelo will ensure that the committee will meet on a monthly basis
• A second Rhino Security Assessment of each rhino reserve will be conducted by the end of October. Dr Mkhize said there was evidence that the effectiveness of patrols might have been undermined through the diversion of seven field rangers to assist with the Earthwatch Transect Game Counts. It was acknowledged that Ezemvelo’s Bantam light aircraft had been formative in the discovery of these poaching incidents and Dr Mkhize said Ezemvelo would be seeking to acquire another through donor funding specifically for iMfolozi Game Reserve with a view to in future expanding the service to uMkhuze, Ithala and other major rhino reserves.
Talks are also underway with the Department of Transport to deal with the corridor road which is considered a weak leak in the security of the rhino effort. Also part of the new initiatives being implemented by EKZNW is the training of 100 Community Rhino Ambassadors. Dr Bandile Mkhize introduced the first group of community environmental officers who were selected from 10 traditional leaders around Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (HiP). The 100 men and woman have been intensively trained for five weeks at HiP to be part of a task team to help fight against rhino poaching.
Let’s support those who are doing their best to make the needed changes so that South Africa’s rhino stands a chance to be saved from the ravages of illegal trade and wildlife trafficking.