Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The First Poacher

In the year 2000 not a single rhino was poached in the Kruger National Park. 
In 2004:  7 rhinos.
Up to August 14th  this year the tally was 345 rhinos in the KNP alone.

But it actually started long before that. In the late ‘80s, a senior game ranger in the Kruger National Park got hooked on gambling.  He was one of the pillars of society in the Park.  I will refrain from naming him.

In those years, gambling was illegal in South Africa.  However, it was a simple matter of just hopping across the border to the Kingdom of Swaziland (legally – not the way borders are hopped these days) for a weekend of fun and games. Every weekend would see lots of South Africans at the tables in the casino of the Royal Swazi Spa.

Our friend apparently frequented the place. Seems it was also a good place to meet people who would be eager to exchange rhino horns for cash.

His arrest sent shockwaves through the community. In a follow-up investigation the remains of long-dead rhino all over the Park were examined and the vicinity of the remains combed with metal detectors. Bullet points were recovered, and forensic tests linked them to the ranger’s rifle. Eventually he was linked to the shooting of 27 rhinos over a period spanning several years.

I believe he was sentenced to 12 years in jail.

What do they get these days?  A rap on the fingers, out on bail and back into the bush in 18 months.

Our Government not being able to put some brakes on this is a farce.

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