By Sheree Bega
Pretoria - A well-known East Rand family has put up a whopping R1 million reward to “strike fear in the hearts” of the masterminds of a recent rhino attack on their game reserve.
“We’re after the kingpins, not the poachers,” Franco D’Arrigo, of Springs, said this week of the unprecedented reward amount for the rhino killings.
“We’re taking the fight to them. We want to nail them. We will never get to the end of rhino poaching in this country if we don’t get the kingpins.”
His family’s reward is for the “successful arrest, prosecution and recovery of the stolen rhino horn” of those involved in an attack on the three dehorned rhinos on their father’s reserve, in the Soutpansberg area on October 28.
Armed poachers shot dead two rhino, injuring another, but she and her calf survived.
In 2010, poachers slaughtered another bull on their property.
No arrests have been made in either case.
The reward, believes D’Arrigo, will create chaos between rival gangs.
“We want to strike fear in their hearts. This time they went through the wrong farm. We want them to know if they come to our farm with guns again, they must think three times before trying to shoot our rhino.”
D’Arrigo said his family members were working with the Hawks and Limpopo nature conservation officials to apprehend those involved in the attack.
More than 1 000 rhino have been slaughtered in South Africa so far this year – an average of 4.6 animals a day, according to rhino conservation groups.
His family’s substantial reward may be the first initiated by private rhino owners. In 2012, SANParks announced it would pay R100 000 in cash for the arrests of suspected poachers and a further R1m for the successful conviction of a poaching syndicate mastermind.
D’Arrigo’s sister, Carmela Lattanzi, said all the rhinos roaming their reserve were dehorned last year to reduce the risk of poaching.
“They still killed them for the little horn there was, probably less than 1kg. On a nearby farm, poachers killed one of the calves, just out of spite, recently.”
She believed police and nature conservation officials lacked the resources to apprehend the culprits behind a spate of rhino attacks in the area.
“They are really trying, however. So many farmers in our area have had rhino poached. There are only a handful still farming with rhino.
“We believe if we offer such a big reward… they will kill each other to try get that money.
* If you have any information about the rhino poaching attack in the Soutpansberg area in late October, contact 074 208 4758.