#ShockWildlifeTruths: Rhino poachers wipe-out Eastern Cape private game reserve's entire herd

2017-10-27 09:05 - Unathi Nkanjeni
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Cape Town - Wildschutsberg Game Reserve owner, Greg Harvey is outraged, following the killing of his entire rhino population in the last two weeks on the private game reserve in the Eastern Cape.

Harvey told Traveller24 that five of his de-horned rhino have been killed in two separate attacks on the private game reserve. 

"Five rhinos have been killed in two separate attacks at the game reserve," says Harvey, adding that a total of 8 have been killed in the last three years. 

According to the DEA data, 11 rhinos have been poached in the Eastern Cape, while 19 were killed last year and a total of 80 in the last decade.

SEE: #ShockWildlifeTruths: North Korea accused of state-sanctioned rhino horn and ivory smuggling

A frustrated Harvey says investigations and a polygraph test on staff will be conducted by the South African Police Services (SAPS), following the devastating poaching incident.

"It's in the police's hands. The police are dealing with it and a polygraph test will be done randomly," he says. 

While it remains unconfirmed if a contentious second rhino horn auction is underway, Harvey’s stance on rhino horn poaching and the sale of rhino horn remain conflicted. 

In a catch 22, Harvey says he will only invest in rhino if he is able to sell the rhino horn. All of Harvey's rhino had been dehorned and poachers killed them for the small regrowth that had occurred. 

SEE: #ShockWildlifeTruths: Rhino horn processed into undetectable products like jewellery - study

"I am all for the rhino horn auction," says Harvey. "They have killed all of our rhinos and I will not invest in rhinos unless I harvest the horns and sell them and get money to protect them because looking after rhinos is a serious job that requires 24/7 monitoring," he says. 

Rhino crisis highlighted

While the long-term benefits of whether this legal route will ultimately lead to the demise or preservation of the species, controversy around the issue remains. 

In the midst of the controversial rhino horn online auction, Kruger National Park rangers were involved in two contact incidents with suspected poachers on Friday 18 August, and Sunday 20 August, in the southern part of the park near Mkhuhlu and Cork areas.

SEE: Kruger Poaching War: two attempts stopped as online auction commences

Poachers also attacked Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage in KwaZulu-Natal, which has subsequently decided to close down after a heavily armed gang hit the orphanage on the night of 21 February. 

SEE:  Elephant Whisperer's rhino orphanage closure a blow for anti-poaching in SA

In June, SA’s special investigative police unit arrested poaching suspects at OR Tambo International Airport who were trying to smuggle rhino horn out of the country. The two alleged smugglers were arrested on 12 June, with 10 rhino horn to the value at R2.8 million recovered.

SEE: Minister of Environmental Affairs welcomes arrest of rhino horn traffickers

While government says it is doing all it can to reduce poaching and increase arrests, some conservationists have alleged that there is massive corruption within the court system, resulting in the release of several suspects.  It is alleged the ongoing delays in trials are sometimes engineered to go nowhere - while poachers become more brazen in their attack and go unpunished.

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