It is very encouraging to see the rhino poaching epidemic in South Africa getting the cure. I am sure this is by no means the end of the matter, and although some of the culprits in the Limpopo Province and the Northwest have been brought to book, I read this morning that the Eastern Cape populations are also being nervously watched in case other syndicates move away from the hotbed of activity in the north and start looking for safer options.
How safe are the rest of them?
The Eastern Cape has a larger population of black than white rhinos, which may account for the fact that fewer of these animals have been hit overall. Black rhino tend to be more secretive and are more difficult to locate in the rapid, hit and run type operations that have been dropping white rhino like dominoes. The Eastern Cape seems to have a better handle on their populations, and I dare say more people with genuine integrity than those in the business further north.
The human disgrace
This leads me to one of the most bitter aspects of this whole saga, an aspect that I am sure has provoked the gall of interested parties and stakeholders worldwide. This is that those most closely associated with the conservation of wildlife – the veterinarians, professional hunters and game-farm owners – have been proved to be right at the center of it all. In south Africa it is normal to associate sophisticated and wanton crimes like this with Nigerian-style organized crime syndicates, with their typical disinterest in anything other than money. However, from the august pool of wildlife enthusiasts have emerged some of the most disgusting souls ever dredged up from the pit of humanity. Otherwise committed conservationists doing this sort of thing. Un-believable!
Pro-hunters, what went wrong?
While I have always been repelled by the organized hunting ethos, I have nonetheless likewise always respected professional hunters as being those with the long term survival of endangered species closest to heart. This is at least how it has always seemed to me. It is a source of terrible disappointment, therefore, to discover members of that fraternity also at the heart of this revolting episode.
Great work among concerned SA conservationists who did most of the work in locating and identifying this conspiracy, and congratulations to the South African Police for emerging from their usual mire of corruption and incompetence to deal with this matter as cleanly and quickly as they did.