Sunday 29 October 2017

Thirty six rhino poachers arrested in Kruger NP in three weeks

Thirty six suspected rhino poachers have been arrested in the Kruger National Park and Hluhluwe Game Reserve in the last three weeks. The arrests have been effected by the Rhino 8 Task Team.

 Brigadier Vish Naidoo, national police spokesperson, said since the beginning of October to date, some members of the task team were able to arrest the 36 suspects in the areas of Acornhoek, Calcutta, Hazyview, Elukwatini and Skhukuza (Mpumalanga), Hluhluwe, Mtubatuba (kwaZulu-Natal) and Hoedspruit and Phalaborwa (Limpopo).

During these arrests the team also confiscated four motor vehicles including a VW Golf, a Ford Ranger Wildtrack, a Nissan Navara; 12 unlicensed firearms including rifles; a variety of ammunition, silencers,  a hacksaw,  axes, knives, 27 cellphones and three rhino horns as well an elephant tusk.

"Most of these suspects have since appeared in various courts on charges of unlawful possession of firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition, possession of dangerous weapon/s, trespassing, hunting a protected animal, kidnapping, assault, possession of remains of a wild animal, in terms of the Immigration Act for either being illegally in the country/without proper documentation and/or possession of suspected stolen property," Naidoo said.

He added that despite a multitude of arrests by the Rhino 8 Task Team, there still seems to be greater persistence by suspects wanting to poach rhino. It is with hoped that the arrest of these 36 suspects would serve as a warning and deterrent to other potential poachers.

"The strategies we have in place now are intended to significantly reduce the chances of poachers. We applaud the communities for their continued support in fighting this scourge. With this growing help from the communities, the days of poachers are certainly numbered. Poachers are warned that over and above facing criminal prosecution, we are coming after their ill-gotten gains in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act," Naidoo said.

Thursday 19 October 2017

Tour operators launch a de-snaring program in the Serengeti

Tour operators have launched a 'de-snaring programme', which aims to fight the rampant snares set by local bush meat mongers to catch wildlife within the country's flagship Serengeti National Park.

The use of wire snares is a large-scale poaching method targeting wildlife species for bush meat, including the wildebeest. Snares are non selective and catch many other wild animals including elephants and carnivores such as lions.

The illegal use of snares is common throughout Africa and is partly responsible for massive declines in the number of wildlife. A knock on effect of this is that carnivores find it increasingly difficult to find food and turn to killing livestock. This conflict inevitability outrages pastoralists who kill the predators.

The project, which is being funded by tourism investors was inaugurated in Arusha, the country's designated safari capital, during the commemoration of 18th Anniversary of the death of Julius Nyerere.

The De-snaring Programme, which started in Mid-April, 2017 had so far managed to remove 7,331 snares. 384 animals were found trapped in Snares and about 100 were released alive.

For his part, Serengeti National Park Chief Warden, Mr William Mwakilema said that the park faces shortages of rangers to be able to effectively fight against illegal activities within the park. He estimates they need another 82 rangers.

Tanzania has dedicated nearly 30 per cent of its surface area of 945,203 square kilometers to wildlife conservation, but is under funded to police it properly.

 Giraffe with snare round its neck. The snare 
was broken off but could easily catch up again

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Two of East Africa's most wanted poachers arrested

Two of East Africa's most wanted wildlife criminals have been arrested in Malawi for their involvement in the illegal trade of ivory.

Brothers Chancy and Patrick Kaunda of Malawi, who were the subjects of Interpol Red Notices issued at the request of Tanzania, are suspected of trying to export 781 elephant tusks from Tanzania to Malawi without the proper permits in 2013.