Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Rhinos are now being poisoned

And I smell a rat…
Last week eleven people, who are believed to be the masterminds of a syndicate involved in rhino poaching, were released on bail in the Musina Magistrate's Court. The case was postponed to 11 April 2011.

The suspects had to hand in their passports and identity documents and had to give the police a week's notice if they wanted to leave the province. Their bail conditions included that they would not be allowed to tamper with 32 rhinos currently on the game farm, Pragtig, in Musina. The owner of the game farm, 42-year old Dawie Groenewald, is also one of the suspects in the case. He was released on R1 million bail.

Although I cannot find a news report dealing specifically with the discovery and/or confiscation of all the evidence in this matter, I can only presume that the police must surely have confiscated all equipment that could possibly have been utilized to slaughter defenceless rhinos, and that some of this evidence will be used to prosecute the offenders.

It has now come to light that one does not need hi-powered rifles, helicopters, or any other hi-tech equipment to continue with the despicable trade of killing rhinos. Cabbages sprinkled with a good dose of poison can also provide the required results needed to rob defenceless rhinos from their high-priced horns.

Is it not peculiar that hardly one week after suspects have been released on bail, a pregnant rhino cow dies under mysterious circumstances? Is it not strange that this death happened to occur on the farm, Mafunyani, neighbouring Dawie Groenewald’s farm? It’s no secret that game farmers in the Limpopo province assisted the police, and other role-players involved in investigating the rhino killings – (see this news report). Is it possible that the use of poison to kill rhino is part-and-parcel of a personal vendetta of some sort, -- or am I just paranoid?

Lourens Louw, owner of the farm Mafunyani, in the Messina district, confirmed on Tuesday that one of his rhino cows died on Monday. The Beeld newspaper learned that the police are conducting tests on a poisonous substance found near a watering hole on the farm. The report concerning this matter was published yesterday, and can be viewed here.

A news report published today deals with an incident on another game farm in the Mookgophong region (old Naboomspruit region). Fortunately, no rhinos died in the incident, but it could easily have turned into a tragedy if the poisonous bait had not been discovered in time.

The news report:

Johannesburg – A wildlife organisation warned on Wednesday that rhino poachers were now reverting to poison to kill the animals.

Wildlife Ranching SA operational manager Reinhardt Holtzhausen said 14 cabbage halves sprinkled with poison were found on a game farm in Mookgophong at the weekend.

He came across the heap by chance while driving through the game farm with his friend.

"The rhinos were literally 100m from the spot where we found the heap of cabbages. Luckily we could remove all of them before any damage was done."

He said the cabbages were placed in the vicinity of rhino middens.

Rhinos have the habit of visiting their dung piles often, and then eating whatever food has been planted there.

Clever people (???)

"These are clever people; they obviously know the rhinos' habits," said Holtzhausen.

Seven cabbages were cut in half and sprinkled with blue crystals, smaller than the size of ground pepper corns.

Holtzhausen said he suspected the poison was either curaterr or albicarap and had been sent to the police for forensic tests.

"We are waiting for the results," he said.

Last week, a group of people, including two veterinarians and a game farmer, appeared in the Musina Magistrate's Court for allegedly being part of a rhino poaching syndicate.

More than 200 rhinos have already been killed by poachers this year, compared to 122 the whole of last year.


Featured Book:

Tiger Bone & Rhino Horn: The Destruction of Wildlife for Traditional Chinese Medicine

Author: Richard Ellis
Publisher: Shearwater Books
ISBN: 9781559635325
Publication date: May 2005

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