By Sihle Mavuso
The government’s decision to beef up security in state-owned game reserves seems to have forced poachers to target vulnerable privately owned game reserves for rhino horns.
Ezemvelo chief executive officer Dr Bandile Mkhize was speaking in Durban yesterday at an auction of wildlife held by his entity.
Mkhize said the poachers were now trying their luck at seemingly vulnerable game reserves in the hinterlands of the mainly bush-land areas.
Three poachers were arrested on Tuesday evening at the Zululand Rhino Reserve in possession of a gun and an axe. “I appeal to all those who buy rhinos here to ensure that they are kept in well secured reserves.
“The trend of rhino poaching is shifting to private game reserves. “We need to also work together to fight this new trend,” said Mkhize just before the auction started.
Among the game auctioned yesterday were 36 rhinos sold for R10.4m to private game reserve owners mainly from Zululand, the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga.
A total of R16.6m was raised, which will mostly go to nature conservation. This was Ezemvelo’s 26th auction and so far it has sold 36000 game to reduce populations to meet environmental demands as advised by their ecologist.
“This morning, I got a call that three alleged poachers were shot trying to poach in a private game reserve in Zululand and this is worrying and calls on us to work together to fight poachers,” Mkhize” said. He also lamented the loss of life of rangers while trying to stop poachers.
“We don’t like killing people but the situation is forcing our rangers to do so,” he said.