I thought it would be worth while having a look at what happened over the last couple of month.
We have been talking about the Rhino poaching crisis quite intensively and my take it was common sense at some point, that something meaningful has to happen to stop the accelerating threat towards the Rhino. Around the globe, but esp. in SA the host country of the largest rhino population in Africa.
Some of the findings seemed to me being the following:
* supply drives further demand, the more rhino horn flooding the market the more people out of specific society groups within China, Vietnam and Korea desire the voodoo stuff
* all existing rhino horn will hardly meet existing and growing demand
* legal loopholes have supported illegal rhino horn trade, esp. trophy hunting of Rhinos in SA
* rhino poaching is a high profile crime driven by professionell syndicates with the involvement of governmental authorities and wildlife business stakeholders (farmers, vets, wardens and professionell hunters)in SA; one of the main reasons that tackling the issue(or getting back control) is definitely a challenge.
* the SA legal system is constantly failing to take meaningful action and to impose appropriate penalties to the kingpins of the crime (jail, not bail), suspected masterminds are still doing their business as usual
Here are some numbers:
* 122 rhinos poached in 2009
* 333 rhinos poached in 2010
* 448 rhinos poached in 2011
Fake trophy hunts are not included in the numbers.
Within the first 2 weeks of January 2012 at least 24 Rhinos have been found dead due to poaching. At least 11 in the KNP. So the crime is still accelerating. And what has been done by the SA authorities to get back control? Not much it seems.http://www.iol.co.za...rmits-1.1155907
In October last year Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa announced a package of initiatives to evaluate (!) different options, incl. a moratorium for legal rhino hunting, de-horning rhinos and the legalization of controlled (!) rhino horn trade. All of which have been debated quite extensively by a variety of people and organisations. So the sense of urgency resulted in the feeling that there was more need for debates, while the rhinos died on the killing fields of SA's National Parks and Game Reserves and are still slaughtered brutally on a daily basis.
Forced by animal rights organisations and conservationists Edna Molewa spoke up again on the Rhino crisis. Well, it seems that Mrs. Molewa does not see a crisis at all!http://forafricanews...inst-rhino.html
"Due to the invasive nature of and expenses associated with dehorning, the intervention should only be considered under conditions of relatively severe poaching threat," Molewa said.
A continuing study commissioned by government will also look into whether legalising trade in rhino horn could help to bring down poaching.
That leaves me almost speechless. "... intervention should only be considered under conditions of relatively servere poaching threat". This lady does not sound too concerned so far.
While the alarming figures of rhino killing in the country had raised concerns among animal rights groups and activists, SANPARKS said it was not yet time to press panic buttons.
According to the organisation's CEO David Mabuza, there are around 22 000 rhinos in South Africa, accounting for 93 percent of the world's rhino population. The rhino population is said to be growing at a rate of six percent a year.
"So while all of us should be worried, it should be noted that the killings have not yet threated the rhino population in general. But if we continue at this rate (of killing), we will start seeing a decline by 2015," Mabuza said.
Given the mental models of the leadership (of course completely ignoring the ordeal of the individual rhinos and taking that mindless population viewpoint)in SA it is not a suprise that the rhino poaching is still accelarating. Not sure anymore who stated this in what context, but somebody wrote last year here on ST, that what is happening in SA is basically "a large scale sustainable offtake". This statement is making perfectly sense if we take the economics into account and the high profile people being obviously involved in the organised crime (while I am not saying that Molewa or Mabuza are involved themselves). It is about business. Rhino horn delivers max. profits short term through poaching and may result in the legalization of rhino horn trade, probably the desired end game of the "sustainable offtake"?
Interestingly those being confronted with the organised crime on the ground on a daily basis (and this includes the majority of the Wardens, Rangers and Game Ranchers) have a different view on what is going on. Those people are not only deeply concerned, many of them are outraged. And there are of course people who have a more realistic stand of what is going on compared to their leaders.http://www.ewn.co.za...y.aspx?Id=80675
SANParks' Head of Conservation Services Hector Magome said the problem had gone far beyond the capabilities of ordinary rangers and policemen.
“Poachers have become sophisticated. The level of poaching has increased - even police cannot deal with it. We are under siege and I think we need to rise up,” he added.
So the question remains to be: Quo Vadis SA?