Archive for the ‘Kruger National Park’ Tag

British Photographer wins Award drawing attention to “South Africa’s Rhino War”   Leave a comment

From:  SA people News

December 15, 2014 By

British photographer Richard Humphries, who recently won an award for his graphic photographic portrait of “South Africa’s Rhino War”, describes the poaching scenes he witnessed in the Kruger National Park as nothing less than a “full-on war”.

Rhino Poaching in South Africa

Photo: Richard Humphries

Richard has a history with South Africa, having lived in the country, with his wife Jill, for three years from 2009 to 2012 (and they “LOVE it”), but when he visited earlier this year, from their new base in Malaysia, he was shocked by what he came across.

Richard told SAPeople that he returned “for a visit with the intention to explore the Rhino story while I was there.

“Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw. I can only describe it as a full-on war – a war between the anti-poaching teams, and well-armed, well-funded, criminal syndicate gangs.”

Rhino Poaching in South Africa

Photo: Richard Humphries

He cites Limpopo and Mpumalanga province as representing the front line of this Rhino War, with the small town of Hoedspruit – where he was based with Protrack anti-poaching unit – as being the “Forward Operating Base” for anti-poaching teams, thanks to its proximity to the Kruger.

Rhino Poaching in South Africa

Photo: Richard Humphries

In his entry, which won him the Neutral Density Photo Award for Special Photographer of the Year, Richard explains that “Anti-Poaching teams provide security for the game parks within the Kruger area by using highly trained units to patrol large game areas,” but he adds that “despite being well trained, heavily armed, and connected to a deep intelligence network, the Anti-Poaching units often find themselves one step being the criminal gangs.”

Rhino Poaching in South Africa

Photo: Richard Humphries

Richard’s award-winning photos were all taken in January and February this year in the Kruger Park area…and reveal some of the true horror of the poaching that is driving a species to extinction.

In “South Africa’s Rhino War”, Richard points out that:

  • The Tragic Numbers
    A record 1,004 rhinos were killed in South Africa in 2013, up from 668 in 2012, a 50 per cent increase in just one year. If this trend continues in 2014 we will reach the tipping point for Rhinos by the end of the year. By the end of 2014 we will start to be in the negative in terms of deaths and poaching outstripping birth, and the population will start to decline very quickly.
  • The Endangered Lists
    According to the 2013 IUCN Red List the Southern White Rhino is near threatened and the Black Rhino is critically endangered.
  • The Insatiable Demand
    A seemingly insatiable demand for Rhino horn from the medicine markets of Vietnam and China is feeding this madness. Driven by a common belief in Asia that ground-up rhino horns can cure cancer and other ills, the trade has been embraced by ruthless criminal syndicates that normally traffic drugs and guns, but have now branched into the underground animal parts business because it is seen as a low risk, high profit enterprise.
  • The Value
    Rhino horn is now worth more than gold and cocaine on the black market.

As Richard writes, “rhino poaching is fast becoming an epidemic, and one of the most pressing conservation issues in the world today.”

Let’s hope that more international figures like Richard bring attention to this crisis in our land, and on our planet, and that we can turn the tide and save the Rhino. We need all the help we can get…

View more of Richard Humphries’ award-winning “South Africa’s Rhino War” photographs here. 

 

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Calculated hot pursuit suggested as option to halt rhino poaching   3 comments

Calculated hot pursuit suggested as option to halt rhino poaching

Written by Kim Helfrich, Monday, 01 September 2014

With Parliament setting aside three hours tomorrow for a debate on rhino poaching and its impact on national heritage, the timing of a letter seeking Ministerial approval for “calculated hot pursuit” could not have been better.

The letter, penned by Randburg lawyer Christopher Bean, asks Environment Affairs Minister, Edna Molewa, to “extend the principle of hot pursuit to include capture and arrest of known poachers and middlemen residing in Mozambique”.

The use of hot pursuit as a deterrent to particularly rhino poachers operating in the Kruger National Park first came up a year ago when retired Army General Johan Jooste suggested it to SANParks management. Indications are it was discussed when a South African Department of Environmental Affairs delegation met their Mozambican counterparts for discussions on a conservation memorandum of understanding. This included counter-poaching.

At the time of the MOU signing it was said hot pursuit was not yet part of the agreement but there would be further discussions.

Last month National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega told a media briefing hot pursuit was happening.

 

Calculated hot pursuit agguested as counter poaching option

 

“Yes, we have a hot pursuit agreement meaning that when somebody crosses the border we do have an agreement with Mozambique to follow through,” she was quoted as saying.

This was subsequently expanded on by police spokesman, Lieutenant General Solomon Makgale, in response to a defenceWeb enquiry. He said hot pursuit was not confined to suspected rhino poachers but also to suspects of crimes such as stock and vehicle theft as well as drug and human trafficking.

The hot pursuit option was in accordance with a Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Co-operation Organisation (SARPCCO) operational agreement.

He declined to provide details of specific rhino poaching hot pursuit incidents as did Jooste, who referred defenceWeb to the SA Police Service.

This public has to date had no response from the Department of Environment Affairs on its question as to whether it was aware of any SADC agreement regarding hot pursuit ahead of discussions with Mozambique on the conservation MOU.

One who is unhappy about the hot pursuit issue is Democratic Alliance shadow deputy environment minister Terri Stander. She questions its legality and extradition issues and will raise these points in Tuesday’s debate.

As far as legality is concerned Bean maintains “calculated hot pursuit” is in use worldwide and can be used to back rangers and soldiers crossing into Mozambique “armed with information/evidence as to the existence of known poachers and middlemen financing them”.

He terms it “a means of remedying a wrong committed on South African soil without having to go to war to rectify that wrong. In short, hot pursuit is a form of safety valve against war,” he states in his letter to Minister Molewa.

Environment Affairs has not yet issued a monthly update on rhino poaching statistics with the last information released on July 31. That indicated 618 rhinos killed national with Kruger accounting for by far the majority – 400.

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