Friday, November 29, 2013

Battle For SA Rhinos Intensifies And Takes To The Air At 310km/h


The South African National Parks (SANParks) unveiled the GAZELLE – a military spec helicopter – that will bolster their current fleet involved in Anti-Poaching. The event was held at the Letaba shooting range.

The GAZELLE was donated by ...
the Ichikowitz Family Foundation in association with Paramount, a leading African aerospace and defence group, and is part of an on-going capacity building partnership announced almost one year ago. The Foundation has previously donated a Seeker MKII Surveillance aeroplane, which has been operating in the KNP since December last year.

The GAZELLE has been purposefully configured by Paramount’s Advanced Technology Division, and will vastly increase areas that can be traversed and has additional equipment to increase aerial support. It has a maximum airspeed of 310km/h, a range of 670km and service ceiling of 5000 meters. The GAZELLE will bring the advantages of a light attack helicopter to the aid of SANParks Anti-Poaching operations the minute it takes to the air.

The Chief Executive Officer of SANParks, Dr David Mabunda welcomed this superior addition to the arsenal that is being deployed in the KNP. “We are grateful to have patriotic partners like the Ichikowitz Family Foundation, who have unselfishly been behind SANParks, supporting us with resources regardless of cost.

“The Ichikowitz Family Foundation understand our needs, the GAZELLE and Seeker plane are just part of their greater involvement which has included provision of fuel, pilots, specialised training and operational capacity.”

Ivor Ichikowitz, Chairman of the Ichikowitz Family Foundation and founder of the Paramount Group responded, “During war time, the strategic advantage always belongs to the force that has superior airpower. Essentially, although this is a unique “warzone”, the GAZELLE will strengthen SANParks existing forces and bring this element to the Kruger National Park.”

“A critical part of this helicopter’s capabilities is its speed and the fact that the GAZELLE has a night vision capable cockpit - part of our contribution is to the training of the pilots to be able to fly at night thereby fundamentally taking the war directly to the poachers.”

Mabunda thanked other private sector partners that are raising money to help in the fight against rhino poaching. He mentioned the Bavaria initiative, the Honorary Rangers and Unitrans Volkswagen amongst others. Mabunda emphasised the importance of partnerships and the difference they have made since the escalation of rhino poaching in the KNP.

Speaking on the rhino population in the KNP, Mabunda outlined the results of a census taken a few months ago, saying despite the poaching onslaught, the 2013 rhino census in Kruger NP estimated that there are between 8400 and 9600 white rhino. These numbers were estimated by SANParks scientists using a 40% block count survey method.

The census took 3 weeks to complete in September, making use of 3 helicopters with a total of 220 flight hours. The bottom line is that escalating poaching, counteracted by increased anti-poaching operations, has resulted in relatively stable rhino numbers in Kruger since 2008.”We are certain that without intense anti-poaching operations, Kruger’s rhino population would have begun significantly declining by now” said Mabunda.

Ichikowitz commented on this by saying that the Foundation salutes the work that SANParks is doing, the results they are achieving and is committed to the partnership.

“With the GAZELLE now part of the SANParks Anti-Poaching operations we hope that the fight for the rhino will reach a tipping point in 2014. I want to reiterate what I said this time last year, we will not stand by and watch our rhino’s be slaughtered and are sick and tired of unscrupulous criminals taking advantage of our natural heritage.”

Ichikowitz went on to say that the Foundation will be making further investments and is working with SANParks to assist in further training of the current rangers on advanced bush tracking techniques, following the pilot project completed in Madikwe. 2014 will also see the rolling out a canine programme together with Paramount and SANParks to provide tracker dogs.

The Gazelle was part of a show of force by the conservation body as it took part in flyover demonstrations, showing of some of its unique hovering abilities. The helicopter will be based in Phalaborwa and will assist immensely with reaction time in the north of the KNP.

The event was held at Letaba Shooting Range and was attended by the Rangers Corp leadership led by Officer Commanding, Major General (RET) Johan Jooste and his colleagues.

Issued by:
South African National Parks (SANParks) Corporate Communications
Tel: 012 426 5170

Enquiries:
Ike Phaahla
Media Specialist SANParks
Tel: 012 426 5315; Cell: 083 673 6974
Email: Isaac.phaahla@sanparks.org

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Return Of Rhino Horns And Elephant Ivory Products From Hong Kong

A consignment of 33 rhino horns and a large number of elephant ivory products seized by customs officials in Hong Kong in November 2011 were returned to South Africa today.

The return of these will now enable the Hawks to further their investigations and determine the origin of the items by means of inter alia DNA analysis, which m...
ay lead to the arrest and prosecution of the alleged rhino and elephant poachers and couriers of the illegal shipment.

The arrival of the consignment at the OR Tambo International Airport comes as the number of rhino poached in South Africa for their horn this year increased to 891. A total of number of rhino poached in 2012 was 668. In 2011 448 rhino were killed for their horn in South Africa.

Since January 2013, 548 rhino have been poached in the Kruger National Park. A total of 89 rhino have been poached in Limpopo, 82 in North West, 79 in KwaZulu-Natal and 77 in Mpumalanga.

The total number of suspected poachers arrested climbed to 310 this week, an increase of 25 in the past week. Three alleged couriers have been arrested since the start of 2013.

The return of the consignment to South Africa augers well for the future development of constructive relations with the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.

During October 2011 a container allegedly containing waste, parings and scrap of plastic was cleared at the Import and Export customs office of the South-African Revenue Services in Alberton, Johannesburg, to be shipped to Hong Kong.

On 15 November 2011 Hong Kong customs officials seized a container of thirty three (33) rhinoceros horns, seven hundred and fifty eight (758) ivory chopsticks and one hundred and twenty seven (127) ivory bracelets which was shipped from the Cape Town harbour.

An investigation was launched by the Endangered Species Section of the Hawks and the docket presented to the National Prosecuting Authority.

Based on the information collected during the investigation, and the fact that both South-Africa and China are parties to CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), the Director of Public Prosecutions, South Gauteng, applied to The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China for mutual legal assistance.

The request had included that evidentiary material be produced by Hong Kong and that a South African delegation visit Hong Kong in order to have the rhino horns and ivory items returned to South-Africa for further investigation.

The return of such items was the first request of its kind and took place in terms of an agreement between the Government of the Republic of South Africa and the Government of The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China for mutual legal assistance, which was signed on 20 February 2009. The mutual commitment by both countries to fight the illegal exploitation of wildlife crime was evident during the execution of the mutual investigation and strengthened the ties between the two countries.

Following two years of intensive negotiation, a South African delegation, comprising representatives of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (Hawks), the National Prosecuting Authority, the Forensic Science Laboratory of the South African Police Service and the Department of Environmental Affairs returned to South Africa on 27 November 2013 with the evidentiary material, as well as the rhino horns and items crafted from ivory.

The 33 rhino horns weigh 79,9 kg and have a conservative estimated black market value of R23,8 million. The seven hundred and fifty eight (758) ivory chopsticks and one hundred and twenty seven (127) ivory bracelets weighed 22.2 kg and have a conservative estimated black market value of R100 000-00.

A forensic evaluation of the rhino horns by a South African forensic specialist indicated that the victims of the illegal exportation of the horns were not only large adult rhinos, but also very young juvenile or sub-adult rhinos. It has further been determined that some of these horns were harvested from rhino that had previously been dehorned. The investigation had further revealed that all the horns were cut at the growth point, suggesting that the horns were obtained from rhino that had been killed.

The ivory bracelets and chop sticks that were part of the consignment all had similar dimensions indicating that these items were manufactured in the same facility. This fact further suggests that these items were mass produced, most probably utilising sophisticated machinery. The large number of ivory items is evidence that multiple elephants were killed to produce enough ivory to manufacture all these items.

South Africans and members of the international community are encouraged to forward information regarding rhino poaching and related tip-offs to the anonymous tip-off lines 0800 205 005, 08600 10111 or Crime-Line on 32211.

Issued by:
The Department of Environmental Affairs

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

On Safari From 22 November 2013

22 November 2013

The route today was out of camp at 06h00 down the Albasini road, onto Doispane and then up the Paul Kruger Gate Tar to Skukuza for a break.

Animals seen were elephant, rhino, buffalo, impala, kudu, giraffe and stenbuck.

After a tea and coffee break, it was up the Tshokwane tar over the high water bridge, down Elloff Street and back down the Napi Road to camp for lunch.

Animals seen were loads of elephant, buffalo, rhino and giraffe.

This afternoon after meeting some new guests who were joining the safari, we made our way up the Numbi Gate tar, onto the Napi Road, down to Shithave dam and then back onto Napi Road.

Animals seen were common Reedbuck, elephant, buffalo, rhino, waterbuck, impala, cheetah and wildebeest.

 23 November 2013

Today the route was as follows,

We left camp at 06hoo went up the Numbi gate tar getting some hyena females together with their pups. We turned onto Napi Road going down to the H3. We made our way past Quagga pan for about five kilometres, then turned around and made our way back to Napi road, as not much was going on. During this part of the drive, elephants, buffalo, rhino, impala, wildebeest, hyena and kudu were seen.

On the way back to Napi road, a call was received about a mating pair of leopards close to us on the Napi Road, we moved it up and got them in the middle of the road. They moved off the road and within three minutes were gone.

We made our way to Skukuza for a break.

After our break, we were told of another leopard in the tree on the S114, so we decided to go and have a look, we managed to find it lying in a marula tree. After a good sighting, we made our way down the S114 , onto the S112 and back up the H3, before making our way back to camp for lunch.

Animals seen were impala, wildebeest, zebra, hyena, rhino, buffalo, elephant and sable antelope.

This afternoon, we made a turn at Mentsel dam getting hippo's and then went across to Manungu koppies, getting baboon and dwarf mongooses as well as hyena and elephant, before returning to camp.

 24 November 2013

We left camp at 06h00 and made our way down the Numbi Gate tar and onto the Napi Road to the H3 junction and then back to Numbi Gate in order for clients to get their transfer back to Johannesburg.

Animals seen were rhino, buffalo, elephant, impala, kudu, waterbuck, hippo and Klipspringer.

After dropping clients off, we took another drive down the Albasini road, onto Doispane and then up the Paul Kruger Gate tar and back to camp on Napi Road.

Animals seen were zebra, giraffe, mating pair of lions, elephant, rhino, buffalo, impala, waterbuck, kudu, warthog and baboon.

This afternoon’s game drive was around the Shabeni Koppies, around Manungu Koppies and then around Voortrekker link.

Animals seen were hyena, elephant, rhino, buffalo, kudu, impala and baboon.

 25 November 2013

Today we left camp at 06h00 and made our way up the Numbi gate tar getting good sightings of buffalo and hyena, we then turned onto Napi Road going down to Transport dam and then returning to Numbi Gate to take guests through to Nelspruit for their transfer back to Johannesburg.

Animals seen were rhino, elephant, buffalo, impala, kudu, waterbuck, hippo, zebra and baboon.

This afternoon game drive left at 15h00 with new guests and the same route was driven with exception that we went down to the H3 junction.

Animals seen were elephant, rhino, buffalo, kudu, waterbuck, hyena, impala, zebra, hippo and baboon.

Guests returned to the lodge with five minutes to spare before gate closing.

 26 November 2013

Guest return to Johannesburg today with Dean.

 

Monday, November 25, 2013

National Prosecuting Authority, SA Police Service And SANParks Rangers Commended For Sterling Work In Adressing Poaching

The Department of Environmental Affairs welcomes the sentencing of two rhino poachers to 10 years imprisonment... each by the Vryheid Magistrate’s Court in KwaZulu-Natal for poaching a black rhino and possession of two rhino horn. The men - Philani Khanyile and Nhlathu Siyaya – were arrested at a roadblock in November 2010. The rhino horns were discovered in their vehicle.

The Department has also commended SANParks rangers and the police for their sterling efforts that have led to the arrest of 13 rhino poaching suspects countrywide in the past two weeks. This brings to 285 the number of alleged rhino poachers arrested since January this year. A total of 267 alleged poachers were arrested in 2012.

It is due to the combined efforts of SANParks rangers, the SANDF and the police that the battle against rhino poachers in particularly the Kruger National Park will be won. Were it not for these men and women working at the coalface of rhino poaching in South Africa, many more of these iconic animals will have been poached this year.

The number of rhinos killed for their horns in South Africa since January has increased to 860. Of the rhino poached, 521 have been killed in the Kruger National Park. A total of 87 rhinos have been poached in Limpopo, 82 in North West, 79 in KwaZulu-Natal and 77 in Mpumalanga.

South Africans and members of the international community are encouraged to information regarding rhino poaching and related tip-offs to the anonymous tip-off lines 0800 205 005, 08600 10111 or Crime-Line on 32211.

Issued by:
The Department of Environmental Affairs
 
 

Contact Made With Poachers

On Friday, 22nd November 2013, rangers in the Mooiplaas section of the Kruger National Park made contact with a group of three suspected rhino poachers at 19H00PM after obtaining visual of a group coming into the Kruger National Park from Mozambique.

During the incident, one suspect was fatally wounded and the remaining two were wounded and arrested.

A .458 hunting rifle, ammunition and poaching equipment were recovered during the operation.

Issued by:
South African National Parks

SANParks Rangers Neutralise More Suspected Poachers

The South African National Parks (SANParks) Rangers emerged on top this week in the Kruger National Park (KNP). The year-end spike in poaching activities kept the rangers SAPS and their Mozambican counterparts busy from Sunday the 17 November 2013.

The activities both inside the KNP and within the adjacent areas to the west of the park and alon...
g the eastern boundary within Mozambique this week led to seventeen suspected poachers arrested and a further four fatally wounded in the Park. The incidents occurred in various parts of the Park including Kingfisherspruit, Crocodile Bridge, Lower Sabie, Letaba, Mooiplaas and in adjacent areas along the boundary.

Commenting on this week’s activities, Officer Commanding, Major General (RET) Johan Jooste said this is a typical year end spike and his men were prepared for it. He further explained that the suspects are more relentless “they don’t only resist arrest but adopt an offensive and aggressive attitude when confronted by Rangers who then have to defend themselves”. He congratulated his troops for their bravery and praised his SAPS and Mozambican partners for the successes obtained this week.

The arrests this week bring the total for 2013 to 117 individuals in the KNP. The KNP has lost 521 animals this year.

Issued by:
South African National Parks

Friday, November 22, 2013

On Safari With Dean From 19 November 2013

19 November 2013

Today would be one of those days best forgotten, as we left camp at 06h00 and went up the Numbi Gate Tar and on to Napi Road making our way down to Skukuza for a break.

Animals seen were a bit on the quite side with sightings of impala, kudu, buffalo, rhino and elephant seen.
Two sightings of leopard were missed due to guide and public disorder and also a lion sighting was messed up by guide and public disorder which has become a huge problem for us professional guides.

We returned to camp to pickup other clients who had enjoyed a bush walk, we also picked up other guests who had come up from Johannesburg.


We took a drive down the Albasini road and up the Shabeni link to Pretoriuskop Camp for lunch.

Animals seen were hippo, impala, warthog and buffalo.

After lunch, we made our way down the Albasini road to Doispane where we turned towards Watergat.
Animals seen were wildebeest, impala, kudu, rhino and nine lions close to the Watergat junction.

We drove up Watergat and turned onto Napi Road, getting sightings of kudu, impala and warthog before returning to camp for the evening.


 20 November 2013
Today we left camp at 06h00 and made our way up the Numbi gate tar, a message came in of a zebra kill on the Albasini road just 2km's from the Doispane road, we travelled up the Numbi Gate tar getting two hyena females together with their pups before turning onto the Shabeni link road and then onto the Albasini road on route to the kill.

We got into the sighting and managed to get some good visuals of the lions with the kill on the left hand side.

After finishing at the kill we drove down the Albasini onto Doispane getting good sightings buffalo, elephant, impala, warthog and kudu before stopping off at Slukuza for a break.

After everybody had enjoyed their break, it was back to Numbi Gate on the Napi Road in order for the guests to get their transfer back to Johannesburg.

Guests had a good time, wanting to return for another safari.

 21 November 2013
Today we left camp at 06h00 with a lot of rain, drove up the Numbi Gate tar to Napi Road, stopped off at Skukuza for a tea and coffee break, and then proceeded to drive still in the rain back to the Numbi Gate.

Animals seen were rhino, buffalo, elephant, impala, kudu and wildebeest.

Left Numbi Gate and took clients to the Mpumalanga Airport for their flight to Durban.

We picked up new clients in Nelspruit, and drove through to Numbi Gate, after check in procedures, we made our way up the Numbi Gate tar and onto Napi Road.


We drove down Napi Road to the Napi Boulders entrance and then turned back, as there was some heavy rain coming, and guests did not want to get stuck in it.

Animals seen on the afternoon drive was impala, buffalo, rhino, elephant, tsessebe, warthog and waterbuck.

 Keep watching for more updates as it is our high season!!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Poacher Wounded

On Wednesday, 20th November 2013, after hearing gun fire, rangers in the Houtboschrand section of the Kruger National Park conducted a follow-up and made contact with two suspected rhino poachers.

One suspect was fatally wounded and the second suspect managed to escape into the darkness heading to Mozambique.

Ammunition, a hunting rifle and poaching equipment were recovered.

Investigations will continue tomorrow morning.

Issued by:
South African National Parks

Poachers Update 20 November

On Wednesday, 20th November 2013, at approximately 05H00AM rangers in the Letaba section of the Kruger National Park made contact with three suspected rhino poachers.

One suspect was fatally wounded and the other two remaining suspects managed to escape.

A hunting rifle, ammunition and poaching equipment were recovered.

Further investigations are underway.

Issued by:
South African National Parks

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Poachers Arrested

On Tuesday, 19th November 2013, rangers in the Lower Sabie section of the Kruger National Park with support from the South African National Defence Force managed to arrest two suspected rhino poachers.

The two suspects were wounded when they tried to evade arrest, the third suspect managed to escape.

An axe and other poaching equipment were recovered at the scene.

Issued by:
South African National Parks

Poachers Update

On Monday, 18th November 2013, rangers in the Kingfisherspruit section of the Kruger National Park made contact with a group of three suspected rhino poachers.

One suspect was arrested and is in custody.

The remaining two suspects managed to escape with at least one hunting rifle.

Issued by:
South African National Parks

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

On Safari With Dean From 14 November 2013

14 November 2013

We picked up guests from their respective hotels and drove through to Nelspruit where we changed over vehicles and made our way through to Nkambeni Tented camp.

After guests had a chance to get some lunch, it was out onto the road for a game drive to see what we could find.

We drove up the Numbi Gate tar and got good sightings of impala and buffalo. We turned onto the Napi Road and drove down to the Napi Boulders exit junction getting more great sightings of buffalo, a large herd of elephant crossing the road, more rhino, impala, kudu and waterbuck.

After turning back onto Napi road, we made our way back to camp getting more elephant, buffalo, impala, stenbuck, kudu and a female leopard in the Marula tree just after the Shithave dam junction.

After all of this we made our way back to camp, arriving with only five minutes to spare. Guests had a good dinner, before going to bed in order to get up early and be back on the road again trying to find some more animals.

 15 November 2013

Today it was out on the road again at 05h30 to see what we could find.

With five of the guests on a bush walk, we took a drive down the Numbi Gate tar onto the Napi Road, down Watergate, left onto Doispane, going down River Road link and then onto River Road over Doispane and then back to camp on the Albasini Road.

Animals seen were impala, kudu, buffalo, elephant, rhino, stenbuck, waterbuck before it went completely quite with few animals been seen due to rising temperatures.

We got back to camp at 09h00 for guests to have breakfast and for us to pick up the others before leaving on another drive.

We made a turn down to Shithave dam, and on the way back, came across a lion that we had been looking for since yesterday afternoon.
We spent a good amount of time on this sighting, arriving back at camp in time for lunch and for guests to enjoy a swim, before they leave on their Afternoon / Evening Safari at 16h30.

 
16 November 2013

Today we left camp at 06h00 and made our way up the Numbi Gate Tar and onto the Napi Road to skukuza for a break.

Animals seen were impala, kudu, elephant loads of buffalo, rhino as well as two female lions with their cubs.

After the break it was back to camp on the Napi Road as the temperatures were rising and six guests had to get their shuttle back to Johannesburg International Airport for their flights home.

We departed this afternoon on a game drive going around dye loop as well as Shabeni Kopies before returning to camp.

Animals seen were dwarf mongooses, giraffe, zebra, impala. Buffalo, Rhino and baboon.

Guests returned to camp to enjoy dinner before retiring to get some rest before leaving on the game drive tomorrow morning.

 17 November 2013

We left camp at 06h00 and made our way up the Numbi Gate tar getting great sightings of impala and four female hyena with some young pups.

We turned onto the Napi Road, and got some good sightings of buffalo and elephant. We turned down Napi boulders and got sightings of sable antelope, buffalo and more elephant.

We got a radio call of a leopard near to Transport dam and made our way in that direction, getting him lying next to the road. After getting some good photos we made our way to Numbi Gate and then onto Nelspruit airport for the guests flight to Cape Town.

After picking up new guests in Nelspruit and checking in to Nkambeni Safari Camp, we made our way out at 15h30 going down Napi Road around boulders and back to camp at 18h15.
Animals seen were nine different sightings of rhino, impala, waterbuck, kudu and buffalo.

Guests returned to the lodge to enjoy dinner, before retiring as there is an early start tomorrow morning.

 
18 November 2013

Today it was out of camp early again and onto the road to see what we could find.

We made our way onto the Numbi Gate tar turning onto the Napi Road to The H3. We made our way down the H3 onto the S112 up the S114 to Skukuza.

Animals seen were buffalo, elephant, rhino, impala, kudu, leopard, lion and managed to just miss a cheetah who decided to walk off before we got there.

After our break at the Skukuza Camp, we made our way down the Paul Kruger Gate road onto Doispane and up the Albasini back to camp.

Animals seen on this route was buffalo, impala, kudu, elephant, lion and rhino.

This afternoon after getting some new guests joining the safari, we took a drive around Faye Loop, around shabeni Koppies and back to camp.

Animals seen were buffalo, impala, loads of kudu, warthog and wildebeest.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Seized Money To Fight Rhino Poaching

The Asset Forfeiture Unit has handed R8.1 million to SANParks's environmental crime investigation unit (ECIU), the National Prosecuting Authority said on Friday.

“The money will be solely directed by SANparks to enhance and support their ranger corps capabilities with much needed equipment, training and advanced technology for their counter-poaching operation
s,” said spokesman Nathi Mncube.

The High Court in Pretoria found that the money came from the proceeds of illegal rhino poaching by an alleged syndicate leader, Joseph Nyalunga, Mncube said.

Nyalunga was also a former police official stationed at the Hazyview police station.

The cash was seized in December 2011 when Nyalunga and another alleged poacher, Conrad Nkuna ,were arrested while returning from Mpumalanga to Gauteng.

The money was found in their Range Rover when they were stopped and searched by police near Middelburg.

Exhibits from the Range Rover were also seized and were sent for DNA analysis.

“The DNA profile of one male white rhinoceros found in the Range Rover matched the DNA profile of a male white rhinoceros poached in the Kruger National Park in December 2011 in the Stolsnek area,” said Mncube.

Apart from the R8.1 million, the 2009 Range Rover and a 2009 Toyota Fortuner were also seized.

“These vehicles will be sold and the proceeds thereof will also be paid to the ECIU,” he said.

Nyalunga was arrested again in early 2012.

Following his arrest, a further R5 069 800 was found in a metal coffer in the garage at his Mkhuhlu's residence.

The case against Nyalunga and Nkuna has been postponed for trial until March 24 next year in the Middelburg regional court.

By:
South African Press Association



Contact Made With Poachers In The Kruger National Park

On Sunday, 17th November 2013, rangers in the Crocodile Bridge section of the Kruger National Park made contact with a group of at least five suspected rhino poachers.

One suspect was fatally wounded and the second suspect was wounded and arrested.

Two hunting rifles, .458 and .375, ammunition and a set of fresh rhino horns were recovered.

The three remaining suspects managed to escape arrest.

Issued by:
South African National Parks

Poachers Update

#PoachersUpdate: 16/11. Mozambique Rangers made contact with a group of 3 suspected rhino poachers inbound to #KNP. During contact, one suspect was arrested and the remaining suspects managed to escape. A .458 rifle, ammo and poaching eqiupment were recovered. At 15h00 y/day afternoon, Moz Rangers managed to arrest the suspected owner of .458 rifle that was recovered in the first contact where the suspected poacher was arrested.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

On Safari With Dean From 9 November 2013

9 November 2013

Picked up guests at Johannesburg International Airport, and made our way through to Nelspruit, were we changed over vehicles and made our last part if the journey to the Numbi Gate.

We made our way down to the Nkambeni Tented Camp were guests enjoyed lunch after which we left camp on a game drive going down the Numbi Gate tar onto the Napi Road around the Napi Boulders loop and then back to the camp, arriving just before 06h00.
Animals seen were kudu, impala, buffalo and rhino.

10 November 2013

Today it was out at 06h00, we took a drive down the Albasini road onto Doispane and up watergat getting good sightings of giraffe, impala, kudu and a distant sighting of a male lion.
We turned onto the Napi Road and then down the H3 onto the S112 as we had heard of lions in the area. We managed to find four male lions lying on the top of the rock when a call came through that the rat of the pride was on the road around the corner. We got there and got two females lying next to the road and all eight cubs coming out of the bush to cross the road. A great sighting was enjoyed.


We made our way up Stevenson Hamilton road getting a good sighting of elephant.

We made our way to Skukuza for a break.

After the break, we went down the S114 and onto the S21 to get more lions, upon returning to the S114, we came across another sighting of cubs lying on the rock. After this we made our way down to Elloff street to the low water bridge in order to see some crocodile and then it was back to Skukuza lunch.

Great rhino sightings were also experienced.

After lunch it was back to camp for a forty minute rest before guests left on the afternoon / evening safari.

11 November 2013

After delivering guests who finishing their safari to Nelspruit so they could return to Johannesburg, we proceeded to Numbi Gate with the new guests to start their safari.
We took a drive down the Numbi gate tar getting great sightings of impala, waterbuck and buffalo, before turning onto the Napi Road in the direction of Skukuza.

Great sightings of impala, kudu, waterbuck, buffalo, rhino and lion were experienced today before we reached the H3 junction.

We made our way down the H3 to Quagga pan getting more good sightings of buffalo.
As it was a colder afternoon on the open safari vehicle, we made our way to the camp of Skukuza for an early afternoon, before setting out early tomorrow morning to see what we can find.

Keep watching for more!!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Kruger’s Lion Unaffected By Bovine TB

By Lauren Smit

Concern has been rising for some time over the prevalence and impact of bovine tuberculosis (BTb) on Kruger’s buffalo and more recently, lion populations. Yet, recent research findings fly in the face of speculation that BTb is ravishing the park’s iconic lion. In fact, in this world-renowned protected area, the population have been stable for roughly 30 years.

Thought to have been introduced into the park via co-grazing between cattle and buffalo in the far south near Crocodile River during the 1960’s, BTb wasn’t actually detected in lion until the 1990’s.
This chronic disease has been travelling north ever since its introduction to the park and has been found in a range of species, including; lion, leopard, cheetah, kudu and baboon, although buffalo are the primary host. SANParks’ disease ecologist Danny Govender said that buffalo play the primary roll in disease transmission. 

Lion mainly come into contact with BTb via the kills they make, and the disease has been known to manifest itself not only in the lungs but also in the gastro-intestinal system. Eerosol, gastro-intestinal and bites and scratches are all viable routes for BTb infection.

“In their lifetime, they’re not just infected once-off. They get multiple infections and also have different forms of infection. Even though they are feeding on a buffalo carcass, they are not just ingesting, they are breathing in,” said Govender.

In 2005 and 2006, SANParks large mammal ecologist, Dr Sam Ferreira and Tshwane University of Technology’s Prof Paul Funston used call-up stations (speakers which project the sound of a buffalo calf in distress for kilometres around) to estimate lion numbers, sex and age structure. Using this data, they evaluated the impacts of BTb on lion densities across the park and their respective survival rates.
Their findings completely contradicted pre-study estimates and have flown in the face of speculation that BTb is ravishing the lion population.

“There were only two locations where lion estimates were done before, one was in the central region of the park and the other at Lower Sabie,” said  Ferreira.

“when we compiled all the data, we could actually illustrate that they have been stable for roughly 30 years.

“Its very hard for us to find any evidence that BTb is having an effect on them.”

Their results indicate that BTb was having no observed effect on the age at which females have their first cubs, the interval between births or on the litter size. These findings raised the question of why chronic introduced disease such as BTb can be present in the Kruger’ Lion and buffalo and yet not be devastating to either population.

As fate would have it, it has slow disease dynamics ( far slower than its host dynamics) meaning that by the time an infected animal has died, that individual has already performed its key role (such as breeding) in the herd or pride. So, while researchers are seeing impacts the individual level, Kruger’s lion and buffalo populations are apparently not being affected.

The robust lion population has been stable at around 1700 individuals for the past 30 years. This has helped minimise the effects of BTb. Small or already weakened groups would have fared much worse. An abundance of prey biomass and good environmental conditions have also cushioned the impact of the disease in the park’s southern lion prides.

However, if a drought or combination of other disease such as canine distemper or feline immune-deficiency virus (FIV) are added to the mix, a different reaction and more substantial impact might be observed.

In 2009 and 2010. SANParks started an extensive lion-capture and –collaring programme to monitor individuals and their life history.

At the conclusion of the study, these findings will reveal intimate statistics of about 30 prides in Kruger and any possible impact that diseases like BTb might have on them as time and environmental conditions progress.  

Monday, November 11, 2013

Touching Lives - Rhino wars

Ruthless poachers have been mercilessly culling our endangered rhinos for the past few years. To combat this slaughter, the South African National Defence Force, the South African Police Service and South African National Parks have joined forces in Operation Rhino to catch and stop the poachers. See how your Tax is helping to protect our heritage. Follow the link to view the video https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nhongo-Safaris/43657075115

Friday, November 8, 2013

Poachers Update

#PoachersUpdate: A dehydrated and exhausted suspected rhino poacher handed himself over to SANParks Rangers yesterday afternoon after he lost his way. It appears that he was part of a group that was being investigated in the #Tshokwane area. Investigations into his activities are underway.

Poachers Arrested

On Thursday, 7th November 2013, rangers in the Crocodile Bridge section of the Kruger National Park made contact with a suspected rhino poacher.
 
The suspect was arrested and is in custody.

 Poaching related equipment where found on the scene.
 
Issued by:
 South African National Parks

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Forensics To Support The Fight Against Wildlife Crime


The first international rhinoceros DNA sampling training workshop was held in South Africa on 5 and 6 November 2013. The purpose of the workshop was to enhance the world’s enforcement capacity to address the wave of rhinoceros poaching that has resulted in the killing of 825 animals in South Africa since January 2013. 

 The South African Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) and the University of Pretoria’s Veterinary Genetics Laboratory (VGL), in collaboration with the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), hosted a rhinoceros DNA sampling workshop at the Southern African Wildlife College near Hoedspruit in South Africa, which included field training in the Kruger National Park.

 Law enforcement officers from each of the 11 African rhinoceros range states, as well as from China, Thailand and Vietnam, and South African National Parks, participated in the workshop.

 The capacity of law enforcement officers working along national borders, at border posts and in protected areas to detect, investigate and prosecute offenders involved in rhinoceros poaching and illegal rhinoceros horn trade has been boosted through a series of lectures and field visits to the Kruger National Park to partake in the physical DNA sampling of rhino that had been poached within the Park. Special focus was given to the increased use of rhinoceros horn DNA sampling to combat wildlife crime.

“South Africa welcomes the hosting of an international rhino DNA sampling workshop since we are the country most seriously affected by rhino poaching that is largely driven by international wildlife trafficking. The presentation of this workshop supports the decision by CITES at the 16th Conference of Parties in Thailand in March 2013 that all range States, transit and consumer States should strengthen compliance and enforcement,” said the Deputy Director-General: Biodiversity and Conservation in the Department of Environmental Affairs, Mr Fundisile Mketeni.

 The number of rhinos poached in South Africa for their horn since January 2013 has increased to 825. The Kruger National Park continues to bear the brunt of rhino poaching, with 500 rhino being killed by poachers. A total of 87 rhinos have been poached in Limpopo, 77 in North West, 74 in Mpumalanga and 73 in KwaZulu-Natal. The number of alleged poachers arrested has increased to 272.

 Law enforcement officers will emerge from the DNA training better equipped with the necessary tools and knowledge to enable them to effectively counter illegal wildlife trade. This includes specific investigative techniques and the increased use of wildlife forensics, which can be applied during follow up actions that should be taken when seizures are made, crime scenes are investigated, information is being gathered or evidence is being presented to court.

 The officials have been provided with focused training on the identification of rhinoceros horn, rhinoceros horn DNA sampling and wildlife crime scene investigation. Participants have also been educated in the utilisation of ICCWC tools and services to enhance their wildlife crime investigation capabilities.

 ICCWC is a collaborative effort by the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), INTERPOL, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Bank and the World Customs Organization (WCO) to bring coordinated support to the national wildlife law enforcement agencies and to the sub-regional and regional networks that act in defense of natural resources.

 In collaboration with its ICCWC partners, the UNODC commissioned the development of the ICCWC Wildlife and Forest Crime Analytic Toolkit, which provides countries with a technical resource that enables them to undertake a national assessment with the aim to understand the main issues relating to wildlife and forest offences, and identify technical assistance needs.The toolkit was launched in 2012, with the financial backing of the World Bank Development Grant Facility, to effectively combat illegal wildlife trade, which is estimated at between $16 and $27 billion a year globally, including timber and marine species.

 Some of the most lucrative illegal wildlife commodities include tiger parts, elephant ivory, rhino horn, and exotic birds and reptiles, while the recent World Bank study Justice for Forests recognizes that illegal trade in timber deprives States of over $10 billion in annual revenue.

 CITES Secretary-General John E. Scanlon said: “We are supporting countries deploy the technologies and techniques they need to fight back against escalating wildlife crime. Drawing on South Africa's expertise, we are expanding the use of forensic technologies, with DNA test results often being critical for securing successful prosecutions. These collaborative efforts directly respond to the decisive actions taken by CITES Parties earlier this year to better combat wildlife crime.”

The recently developed eRhODIS™ application was also introduced and launched during the workshop with Samsung as the exclusive technology partner. This application provides the information technology backbone to support RhODIS®.

Dr Cindy Harper, Director of the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at the University of Pretoria, said: “RhODIS® continues to play a vitally important role supporting rhinoceros crime prosecutions in South Africa and its implementation and utilisation Internationally could play a key role in bringing persons involved in international wildlife crime syndicates to book.”

The workshop was made possible by funding generously provided to ICCWC by the Government of the Netherlands.

 Background information on rhino poaching and smuggling of their horns

 The illegal trade in rhinoceros horn continues to be one of the most structured criminal activities currently faced by wildlife enforcement authorities.

 There are clear indications that organized criminal groups are involved in rhinoceros poaching and illegal trade in rhinoceros horn. The CITES Conference of the Parties, at its 16th meeting, held in Bangkok, Thailand, from 3 to 14 March 2013, stressed the need for increased cooperation amongst source, transit and destination countries affected by the illegal killing of rhinoceros and the subsequent illegal trade in rhinoceros horn.

 In consultation with rhinoceros range States, the ICCWC identified the need for training on rhinoceros horn DNA sampling for law enforcement officers as a priority. A proposal was submitted to the Government of The Netherlands for consideration and funding. The Netherlands Government approved the proposal and generously made funding available to support a capacity building intervention to combat illegal rhino horn trade.

 Considering that South Africa maintains the Rhino DNA Index System (RhODIS®), and that suitable experts to deliver the required training are available in the country, the CITES Secretariat on behalf of ICCWC, requested South Africa to host the capacity building intervention.

 RhODIS® was developed to assist in addressing the increase in rhino poaching, smuggling of rhinoceros horn and recovery/confiscation of horn and related products by consumer States by the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at the University of Pretoria's Faculty of Veterinary Science. It involves the collection of DNA samples of live and poached rhinoceros across the country as well as all stockpiled horns, to create a DNA database with the unique profiles of individual animals.

 The database presently includes over 10 000 samples from black and white rhinoceros from Africa. These have been collected over the last 3 years and have provided important forensic evidence which have played a vital role in a number on prosecutions.

 South Africans are encouraged to report incidents of poaching and tip-offs to the anonymous tip-off lines 0800 205 005, 08600 10111 or Crime-Line on 32211.

 For media queries contact:
 Albi Modise
 Cell: 083 490 2871




Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Two Suspected Rhino Poachers Appear In Court

Two suspected rhino poachers have appeared in the Groblersdal Magistrate's Court, Limpopo police said on Tuesday.

 Arthur Mashaba, aged 43, and Albertus Muloti, aged 40, appeared on charges of the illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition on Monday, Colonel Ronel Otto said.

 Charges against three other suspects were dropped because they could not be linked to the firearm and ammunition.

 The case against Mashaba and Muloti was postponed to next Tuesday for further investigation. They would remain in custody. They were arrested on Friday evening after information was received about possible rhino poaching in the Marble Hall area.

 After a tip-off police stopped and searched a car and a bakkie. The five were arrested. A hunting rifle, silencer, ammunition, and an axe were seized.

 AFP reported that over 100 rhino were poached in the month of October pushing the death toll closer toward 800 for the year.

 The conservation status of rhino have become critical as the number of rhino killed is set to surpass births, leading to overall population decline.

 The Witness reported last month on the uncovering of an alleged rhino poaching conspiracy in Durban in which two women were arrested.

 The women attempted to organise a poaching hit with an undercover police officer and were charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, a hunting rifle, and with conspiracy to illegally hunt a rhino at Umsuluzi game park in the KZN Midlands on 24 April.

 By:
 South African Press Association

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

On Safari With Dean From 1 November 2013

1 November 2013

Today we entered the park through Numbi Gate, we made our way down to the camp of Pretoriuskop for lunch.

After the guests had enjoyed their lunch break, we made our way down the Napi road to the Napi Boulders and the on to Nkambeni Safari Camp.

Animal seen on the drive were buffalo, rhino, elephant, kudu, impala, stenbuck and waterbuck.

Guests got back into the camp with just five minutes to spare before gate closing.

2 November 2013

Well today turned out to be another great day of game viewing in the Kruger National Park.

We left Nkambeni Safari Camp at 06h00 and made our way out on the game drive, we drove up the Numbi gate tar getting good sightings of buffalo, we turned onto Napi Road getting more good sightings of elephant and numerous sightings of buffalo.

Then between the Shithave dam and Napi boulders junction, we got a call about lions at Transport Dam which had been chased up the tree by hyena's as well as a couple of meters away, a leopard was lying under the tree.

This was too good to be true, so we made our way in that direction, praying that we would get there in time.

After what felt like forever, we turned onto the Transport Dam access road and made our way down to the sighting.

It turned out just as explained on the radio, one lioness lying on the ground watching the hyena's and the other one six foot in the tree, when you cast your eyes to the left, there was a large leopard lying in the open under the tree watching the spectacle unfold in front of him. A large sigh of relief was breathed having got such a good sighting.

We made our way back onto the Napi Road and turned in the direction of Skukuza getting a female hyena and her pups playing in the road. We made our way onto Skukuza for a well deserved break.
We left skukuza at 09h30 and made our way down to the low water bridge, getting good sightings of crocodile, hippo and buffalo.

We made our way back to Numbi Gate on the Napi Road getting good sightings of buffalo, giraffe, elephant, as well as a cheetah trying to take down some impala just 3.2 Km's from transport dam.

Numerous rhino sightings were experienced thought the day. We continued on getting back to camp in time for lunch and then dropping some guests off that had been with us for one night to catch there transfer back to OR Tambo International Airport, but had managed to see six of the magnificent seven.

After a good rest, it was back on the road to see what we could find. We got great sightings of dwarf mongoose with their young, kudu, elephant, buffalo and rhino this afternoon.

We returned to the camp at 18h00 with everybody in high spirits having seen lots today.

3 November 2013

We left Nkambeni safari camp at 06h00 and made our way up the Numbi Gate tar, getting good sightings of buffalo and elephant. We turned onto the Napi Road and then turned onto the Voortrekker road making our way in the direction of Afsaal.

Sightings on the road were not wonderful but guests still had good sightings of numerous rhino, buffalo, elephant and Sable antelope.

We stopped off at Afsaal for a coffee break and then made our way up little jock road and onto the S114.

Good buffalo were seen on these roads.

We made our way over the Biyamiti weir and onto the Biyamiti loop looking for some of the cat species which were proving to be quite elusive today.

There was very little activity on the radio so we had to find the stuff ourselves.

We turned onto the S113 and made our way to the H3 and then it was up to Skukuza only getting more sightings of buffalo and elephant.

We made our way onto Elloff street up to the high water ridge getting very little movement of any animals and this could be attributed to the higher temperatures experienced today.

We got a good sighting of hippo's from the high water bridge and then also some vultures drinking and bathing in the Sand River on the Tshokwane Tar road. We made our way back over the Sabie river at the low water bridge. We made our way into Skukuza for a lunch break.

After lunch was enjoyed by all, it was back out on the Napi road in direction of the camp as guests were going out on the afternoon / evening safari. With the higher temperatures being experienced, guests needed to take a break for an afternoon siesta, before heading out in the African sun and dirt on another wildlife encounter.

4 November 2013

Today we left Nkambeni Safari Camp at 06h00 and made our way down the Numbi Gate tar getting great sightings of buffalo, elephant. We continued onto the Napi Road and had more good sightings of the same.

We made our way back to the Numbi Gate in order to get clients onto their return shuttle to Johannesburg.

After this we carried on with the game drive to the camp of Skukuza for a break. Numerous sightings of rhino, elephant, buffalo, impala, wildebeest, waterbuck, duiker, and giraffe were experienced.

Upon finishing with our break, we received a call about lions on the Marula Loop, we made our way there, but sadly only got to see them sleeping, as the temperature had already climbed to well over thirty degrees.

We made our way on to the high water bridge getting good sightings of hippo and then it was back into Skukuza for lunch.

After lunch we made our way back on the Napi Road taking a turn down to Quagga pan getting good sighting of a pair of saddle billed storks together with their chick. We ace our way back down the Napi road, getting a great sighting of a female cheetah together with her cubs about six kilometres past transport dam.

Other sightings enjoyed were more rhino, elephant, buffalo, kudu, impala, waterbuck, giraffe and baboon.

We returned to camp and had a great sighting of a young elephant right next to our vehicle on the camps access road.

Tomorrow, it is out early again, before returning to Johannesburg for the clients to catch their return flight to the United Kingdom.

Keep watching for more!!

Monday, November 4, 2013

South African National Parks Responds To The Branded Restaurants Debate


SANParks has been monitoring the feedback and debate taking place in the various forms of media. There is, as in the case of such announcements, varied and differing opinion, but in general the move has been seen as positive.

 The debate seems to be following a few specific themes, namely;

 1. What research was done to inform the decision to solicit Branded Restaurants?

 2. There will be more road kill due to speeding delivery trucks.

 3. There will be more litter produced by the takeaways.

 A bit of background to the operations of restaurants in SANParks:

 There have been restaurant operations in Parks for many years. In 1931 restaurants in the following Kruger National Park camps, Skukuza, Satara and the Letaba were run by private individuals. These individuals were in fact responsible for all tourism services. In other words they were “Outsourced” In 1945, they were taken over by a company called Kruger Park Services and hence remained “outsourced” They were taken over by SANParks in 1955 who operated them until 2001. The decision to once again “outsource” them was based on the Mckinsey report that found that it would be of strategic value to outsource non-core assets and in addition bases on a PWC report its further found that they were loss making operations, and were therefore essentially being subsidized by public funding. It was the McKinsey report that laid down the basis of what is now termed the SANParks Commercialisation Strategy.

 The restaurant portfolio is a key part of SANParks Commercialization Strategy executed through Public Private Partnerships (PPP). Out of the initial suite of operations that were outsourced through PPP’s processes to private organisations i.e. lodges, retail and restaurants, it was indeed the restaurant operations that proved to be most unsuccessful. In the wake of two failed contacts with private partners, mounting complaints from visitors, SANParks had to look at a new model. It was on this basis that it was decided to look into the options of contracting with new and successful South African Restaurant Brands. 

 Before embarking on the development of a suitable model, two key factors had to be understood. Firstly, what were the main issues driving the complaints, and secondly and more importantly we needed to test the opinions, needs and preferences of our most loyal customers. A survey was conducted online and independently by the University of the North West’s Tourism Research unit (TREES). It was conducted over the periods 7 to 9 November 2011 and 5464 customers participated through invitation, 64% of them were Wild Card Holders. Based on this information (Available on the SANParks website) SANParks developed a revised restaurant PPP model. 

 SANParks engaged on the restaurant tenders in March 2013. The criteria for selection include Functionality, BEE initiatives & PPP fee offered. Functionality covers Environmental Initiatives, Financing and Capital plans, Business, Operation and Design plans and Risks that are transferred to the Private Party. The tenders were evaluated from 17 to 19 July 2013 and the successful operators were announce to the public on the 30 October 2013.

 SANParks is excited that our partners are happy to tone down the signage and interior décor in order to be in more in keeping with the sense of place of each restaurant. 

 Regarding concerns about more road kill due to speeding delivery trucks in the Kruger National Park, please note that Famous Brands will be the franchisor for the majority of restaurants through the Mugg & Bean and Wimpy brands. Along with their expert restaurant & franchising capabilities, they have very good logistical support to their franchisee which was a criteria that was important in making the appointments. It is important to note that Famous Brands will be re-designing the kitchen in order to provide a quality product. The re-design will in some cases lead to an increase in fridge, freezer and storage space and ultimately result in fewer deliveries happening (compared to current). The other large outlet is the Skukuza Main Restaurant where Cattle Baron will be the franchisor and Tourvest Holding (Pty) Ltd is the franchisee. Tourvest has been running the retail outlets in the KNP for over 10 years now. With the Skukuza Restaurant to their existing logistical support, it is unlikely that there will be any additional traffic but rather a consolidation between the retail and restaurant as far as the logistics are concerned. Ultimately though, all of these brand have been built on a sound reputation, something that these operators will not want to destroy due to aspects such as poor management of vehicle fleet operations. 

 It is important to note that due to SANParks’ conservation and Responsible Tourism mandate, emphasis on environmental issues are very prominent in our partner sourcing process. All operators have subscribed to many environmental friendly initiatives which could be far reaching in terms of looking after the environment. They include and are not limited to preferred pest control chemicals, prohibited chemical substances, subscribing to the pest management plan, recycling, use of biodegradable packaging, optimal water use and limiting litter. SANParks is therefore confident that the Private Parties understands our mandate and will partner with SANParks in this regard to ensure that the environment is looked after as good as possible. As reputable brands, they will not want to be the cause of any avoidable environmental damage.

 As we continue to adapt to our guest and environmental needs, we encourage all our guests to visit our restaurants and join us on this journey as we turn this new leaf!

 Issued by: 
 South African National Parks

R17.3 million Worth Of Rhino Horn Seized During An Operation In Centurion, Near Pretoria


They arrived at a secure complex where they first found a car with a hidden compartment used for horns, microchip scanners, a bandsaw and hi-tech scales. Two horns were in the car. The following day, an eagleeyed policeman noticed that soil in the garden had been disturbed, and six rhino horns wrapped in clingfilm were unearthed.

 One of the horns was so fresh, it was later found to have been hacked from a rhino just a few days earlier.

 The details of Operation Whisper, which bust the rhino-poaching syndicate, were revealed in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Friday.

 Colonel Gerhard Vermeulen of the SAPS Forensic Science Laboratory told how he had arrived at the crime scene to find two rhino horns in a car.

 They had been stashed in a hidden compartment, between the rear seat and the boot.

“If you had opened the boot you wouldn’t have been able to see it,” said Vermeulen.

 In the dock was Vietnamese citizen Gulit Chu Duc, 23, who was arrested on May 31 last year at the Centurion complex.

 He has pleaded guilty to two charges related to the transportation and possession of rhino horns.

 His arrest was the culmination of Operation Whisper, during which undercover SAPS members had sold two rhino horns in KwaZulu-Natal and then followed the contraband to Gauteng.

 In a statement, Chu Duc said he had picked up a parcel from a person in Bruma, Joburg, and placed the parcel in his car.

 Vermeulen told the court that in the garage he also found a rhino horn in a bandsaw.

“It appeared to me that someone was in the process of cutting up the horn,” he said.

 On the floor were two microchip scanners.

 He believed the scanners were used to locate microchips left in the horns.

 The following day when Vermeulen searched the garden, he found six more horns.

 The horns were sent for DNA testing and compared to a genetic rhino database. They got a match on one of them.

 The horn belonged to a male rhino poached in the Hluhluwe Umfolozi game reserve in KwaZulu-Natal on the same day as the Centurion bust.

 The animal had been killed a few days earlier.

 A fingerprint matching Chu Duc was found on some of the plastic wrapped around the horn, said Vermeulen.

 Advocate Mannie Witz said his client was not part of a syndicate – “What he is, is the most dispensable person in the world.”

He claimed the vehicle Chu Duc was driving was registered to the Centurion complex’s landlord, who also owned a game farm in Klerksdorp, where legal rhino hunts were conducted.

 Witz said there were legal permits to hunt rhinos.

 Vermeulen said no permits were found relating to the eight seized horns.

“If these horns were legally hunted, why would they need to transport the horn in a secret compartment or hide them in the garden?” he asked.

 Chu Duc’s sentencing hearing will continue on December 6. THE GOVERNMENT’S plan to set up a national fund it would manage to combat rhino poaching has been blasted by the non-governmental sector, which fears the fund will be mismanaged.

 The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has been forging ahead with the establishment of the National Rhino Fund. It claims this will allow donors to be sure their money is going to anti-poaching projects.

 The idea behind the fund is that the government will look at projects that are underfunded and channel the money to them. It also will establish a separate DEA registry dealing with anti-poaching groups.

 However, at a meeting with NGOs, non-profit organisations, the private sector and the public in Kempton Park last week, the DEA came under fire.

 The major concerns raised included government involvement in the non-governmental sector and a potential mismanagement of funds.

“It’s a clear and absolute conflict of interest,” said Katheryn Kure, director of the eThekwini Community Foundation. She also questioned how the government could expect to raise funds through NGOs and why there was a need for a separate registry.

“It’s a needless duplication within the government,” Kure said. Her organisation was already registered with the Department of Social Development and was accountable to the Department of Justice, the Master of the High Court and Sars, with all finances available to the public on demand.

“When the government says we want to ring-fence your money and we’ll decide how it’s spent, I’m sceptical,” said another concerned person.

 Deputy director-general in the DEA Fundisile Mkenti admitted there was distrust in the government’s management of funds but said money would be used responsibly. “The money we get is not for politics; it’s for rhino poaching.”

Sheelagh Antrobus, of Project Rhino KZN, was worried that bigger, more politically connected groups would get most of the funding while smaller ones would get the leftovers. “I’m very concerned that it is going to be like lion cubs at a kill,” she said.

 Mkenti replied: “We don’t see competition. You help us by telling us who is funding you… give us those and we’ll avoid them.”

Another issue was whether the government would support groups opposed to legalising the rhino horn trade, because the DEA had a pro-trade stance.

“We don’t care, that’s your mandate… we won’t stop you,” said Mkenti.

 By:
 The Star