By Diana Neille
Concentrating on his computer screen, brow furrowed, JJ van Altena reaches distractedly for his cellphone as it beeps. It’s an alert from an anti-poaching unit. A death knell. His expression changes. Two rhinos have been found killed and dehorned by rangers in the North West Province.
“That makes it seven this week,” van Altena sighs, turning back to his computer, the backlight briefly illuminating frustration in his eyes.
He's 34... maybe 40, and the director of his own wildlife ranching company, Global Supplies - the by-product of 18 years as the go-to-guy for just about anything wildlife-related.
"There's a wild dog in a snare, call JJ. The anti-poaching unit needs extra hands," call JJ," van Altena smiles rather proudly as he recalls his days as a young game ranger, quickly climbing the ranks at the Kruger National Park because of his willingness to take on any job handed to him, often in the face of danger.
He’s captured, darted, translocated, treated and administered birth control to hundreds of animals, a lot of them elephants.
Poaching and culling have been an every-day reality throughout for van Altena, but it’s clear loss of life still has an impact on him when his phone beeps again an hour later.
“They killed an elephant at Thembe,” van Altena says quietly, after a long pause. More....