SA losing war against rhino poachers


Rhino conservationist Dr Walter Ward arrested illegally, beaten up by 7 black cell inmates … then cops ignore court order to release him

Pretoria High Court judge Hans Fabricius had to personally phone the Naboomspruit cops yesterday – demanding to know why his urgent court order to release wildlife conservationist Dr Walter Ward was not carried out.

Ward was arrested with his foreman Saki Kekana on Friday-night on his private rhino-protectorate, the farm Lweni 5km outside Naboomspruit. Police arrived with claims they had a ‘tipoff ‘ that he had “unlicensed weapons’ in his safe.  However Dr Ward told Beeld that all his weapons were legal and that he had already sent documents to the local cops a while back to inform them of this fact but had never received any response from them…

The Naboomspruit cops claimed when arriving enmasse at Lweni, that they had a ‘search-order’ to open his safe, but then adamantly refused to show it to the South African businessman. They arrested Ward with Kekana and dumped them in a cell with seven trial-awaiting prisoners who then proceeded to beat  up Dr Ward and rob him.

This was a two-pronged police operation:  while Ward was being beaten up in a police-cell, the police’s anti-poaching unit also were still investigating the past week’s discovery that one of his valuable rhino-cows was murdered, her horn cut off – and the toes of her small calf also removed. This is the 140th rhino killed in South Africa over the past four months.

Dr Ward said that he had paid R75,000 for the rhino last year – and had her horn removed precisely to protect the endangered creatures against the aggressive, highly-sophisticated poacher gangs which are decimating South Africa’s endangered rhinos, hunting them down with helicopters.

South Africa is losing the war against the rhino-poachers 537 rhinos killed since 2007…

Over the past four months alone, a total of 140 rhinos were shot dead for their horns in South Africa ; more than one day. Last year some 300 rhinos were killed in SA, in 2009 there were 84 killed; and In 2007, a total of 13 rhinos were shot dead for their horns.

After judge Fabricius issued the emergency court order for his immediate release from police custody, however, the Naboomspruit police adamantly refused to release Ward from the police-cells, with a local low-level cop obtusely refusing to honour the High Court order –  claiming he ‘needed his commander’s permission’ first.

Brig. Hangweni Mulaudzi of the Limpopo SA Police Force claimed that they confiscated nine ‘illegal’ hunting rifles, a pistol and 1,944 rounds of ammo from his safe: and Sapa writes that Ward again appeared on May 3 at 7:42am in the Naboomspruit/Mokgophong court.

Quandary of rhino-conservationists: do we sell the horn to finance the expensive campaigns to prevent its extinction?

Background: are insiders intentionally fuelling demand for illegal rhino-horn?
Thus far in 2011, a total of 140 rhinos were already shot dead for their horns in South Africa. that’s more than one rhino biting the dust each day. That’s even more than last year, when some
300 rhinos were killed in South Africa. 

Experts believe that conversationists who are cutting off the rhino-horns to stop the animals from being killed –  also may be selling the illegal rhino-horn to the Asian market, so that they can keep on financing their very expensive attempts to protect the animal from going extinct altogether in Africa.

Rhino horns are worth more than gold:

Demand in south Asia has doubled the price of horn, which is used in a socalled ‘medicine’ and aphrodisiacs which have no effect whatsoever. Within just 18 months from 2007, the price of rhino-horn stood at  £36,300 a kilo, while gold a tthat point stood at about £24,600 per kilo.  An average horn weighs 7kg. That has triggered the largest number of killings in 15 years. In 2007 a total of thirteen rhinos were killed in South Africa. This rose to 84 killed in 2009; 300 in 2010 and thus far in 2011, 140 rhinos were killed for their horns in South Africa.  One of the main causes for this sudden rush on rhino-horns, was the Vietnamese minister who claimed in 2009 that it had ‘helped cure his cancer.’
http://www.victoriafalls-guide.net/rhino-horn-worth-more-than-gold.html

In September on World Rhino Day, eleven alleged members of such a ‘rhino-horn syndicate’ were granted bail by Musina magistrate’s court – the suspects included safari operator game farmer Dawie Groenewald, veterinarians Karel Toet en  Manie du Plessis, and professional hunter Tielman Erasmus amongst them. Also found were 20 rhino carcasses, unearthed on Groenewald’s property in Musino. They appeared on court again on April 11 2011 and the case continues.

Research conducted by ‘Traffic’ in 2008/9 found that the ANC-regime itself was also at fault // that at least five provinces in SA had failed to provide any information about the private rhino-horn stockpile to CITES, which is required under an international treaty also signed by the ANC-regime. The  alert was raised with the warning that ‘significant volumes’ of private rhino-horn stockpiles remained undocumented and ‘thus were vulnerable to illegall trade’.
http://www.rhinoconservation.org/2010/12/06/are-insiders-intentionally-fueling-demand-for-illegal-rhino-horn/

 

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sources:
http://www.beeld.com/Suid-Afrika/Nuus/Polisie-ignoreer-hof-20110502
http://www.sapa.org.za/public/browse.cfm
http://www.medicross.co.za/live/index.php
http://www.rhinoconservation.org/2011/05/02/rhino-and-calf-slaughtered-in-limpopo-province-south-africa/
http://www.rhinoconservation.org/2010/12/06/are-insiders-intentionally-fueling-demand-for-illegal-rhino-horn/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9KCTFjEIlA&feature=relmfu

The destruction of the rhinos in Zimbabwe:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7pvg0f9D_4&feature=related

Dr Ward’s website for Royal Victoria Estate suspended:
Royal Victoria Estate is an exclusive 5 star and 7 star leisure and events resort town, styled in typical Victorian architecture and situated in the heart of the malaria-free Waterberg, in the Limpopo province, South Africa. The most unique of its many features, is that the resort is built and styled around the centrally located Piazza or Town Square, with weddings, events, launches, carnivals and conferences throughout the year. The Waterberg and Limpopo province has long yearned for a flagship not only in South Africa, but on the continent of Africa.
A Game Farm development within the United Nations Agency, UNESCO – Biosphere of International Environmental Importance
• A totally Green (Sustained) Development
• Eco Friendly
• Organic Farm Site and Produce to the Town
• Energy Saving Initiative (Dynamic)
• Energy Efficient Approach (Dynamic)
• Co2 – Reduction Approach, with Co2 Caution throughout lifespan
http://www.royalvictoria.co.za/

It’s easy to find people willing to sell rhino-horn: so why can’t the police find them in SA?

“contact me for horns – by David = Hello, yes the prices for RHINO HORN are high but we in the third world still sell at lower prices just to meet up our daily needs – contact tropicalafrican@gmail.com  http://www.victoriafalls-guide.net/rhino-horn-worth-more-than-gold.html

About Adriana Stuijt
Retired South African-Dutch journalist formerly Sunday Times Johannesburg

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