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