By Ackel Zwane
Despite government’s insistence that the business of Royal Jozini Big 6 fell apart in 2011 when a government delegation made this known in their visit to Lavumisa, operators of what is called Royal Jozini Big 6 Game Development are soldiering on.
Today an event to mark the ‘swim to save the rhino’ will see participants swimming across Jozini Dam at the South African-Swaziland border this morning. In a public announcement it is stated that the event is not going to be easy.
“In fact it’s probably outright dangerous – but it’s all for a worthy cause. Hundred percent of all proceeds from the event will be donated to Project Rhino KZN.”
Land Management Board Chairman Clement Dlamini had earlier indicated that issues around Jozini were sensitive but as far as he was concerned the project ceased to exist a long time ago. He was still to respond to the Jozini status issues and others related to the board.
Former General Manager Jim Brown, speaking in his own personal capacity, disclosed that Royal Jozini Lodge Owners Association, made up of some 110 individual sub-lease holders from all over the world, who since 2011 have funded and operated the Royal Jozini estate, “has made repeated overtures to the government and others to seek a settlement to the Royal Jozini affair and negotiate new terms for a reduced lease.
These proposals have not gone anywhere despite our agreement to suspend our legal action while ‘negotiations’ take place.”
The organisers of today’s event said it was aimed “to raise awareness and funds for the plight of the rhino, Swaziland’s Royal Jozini Big 6 Game Development was taking the concept of open water swimming to a whole new level.
The general manager has pledged to swim across Jozini Dam at the South African-Swaziland border, across 2.5km of open water inhabited by wildlife such as hippo, crocodiles and tiger fish.”
September 22 is World Rhino Day which celebrates all five species of rhino: black, white, greater one-horned, Sumatran and Javan rhinos. Both black rhino and white rhino were absent from Swaziland for nearly 70 years until in 1965, when the first pair of white rhinos returned to Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. Black rhino were reintroduced into Swaziland in 1986. Since 1992, just three rhinos have been killed by poachers in Swaziland (two in 2011, and one recently in 2014). According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Swaziland’s rhino protection is unmatched by any other country.
The South African government says the total number of rhino poached in South Africa during 2013 increased to 1 004, as the number of people arrested for rhino poaching-related offences climbed to 343.
During 2012, 668 rhino were poached, while 448 were killed in 2011. Since 2008, 2 778 rhinos have been poached in South Africa. A total of 37 rhinos have been poached since the start of 2014.
During 2013, the Kruger National Park continued to bear the brunt of rhino poaching losing a total of 606 of the iconic animals to poachers. A total of 114 rhinos were poached in Limpopo, 92 in Mpumalanga, 87 in North West and 85 in KwaZulu-Natal.
The number of rhino poachers arrested during 2013 increased considerably with 343 being arrested, 133 of them in the Kruger National Park. In 2012, 267 alleged poachers were arrested. Since the beginning of 2014, six alleged poachers have been arrested.