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South Africa – rare black oryx killed by poor poachers for food

iol News

Rare buck, valued at R8m, killed for food

Northern Cape / 23 August 2017, 09:06am / Norma Wildenboer

The three accused appeared in the Barkly Magistrate’s Court. Picture: Diamond Fields Advertiser
Kimberley – Three young men appeared in the Barkly West Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday for allegedly poaching an extremely rare black oryx, believed to be the only one of its kind in South Africa and valued at around R8 million, on a game farm outside Kimberley last year.Tshkolo William Dikoko, 26, Thabang Riet, 18, and a 17-year-old minor appeared on charges relating to the contravention of the Conservation Act, as well as trespassing, after allegedly hunting the black oryx (a protected species) without a permit and also using prohibited hunting methods (dogs and stones) during the incident that occurred at the Mattanu Private Game Reserve on November 16 last year.

The trio were arrested after an intelligence operation led police to them and some of the animal’s meat was found in their possession. However, some of the meat had apparently already been eaten.

All three accused pleaded guilty to trespassing but not guilty to the charges of hunting a protected species without a permit and hunting with prohibited methods.

The owner of Mattanu Private Game Reserve, Dr Johan Kriek, testified for the State that the animal was the only black oryx in South Africa that he knew of, after a second black oryx was killed by lightning.

He also warned that all camps in the reserve contained buffalo, which pose a danger to humans.

The three accused took to the witness stand on Tuesday and testified in their own defence, after the State had earlier closed its case.

The three testified that they had been hunting for bush pigs with some dogs, belonging to the minor accused, when they came across a hole under the reserve’s fence. They said they entered the area, together with the dogs.

They went on to say that they then heard the dogs barking in the distance and on closer inspection found the injured black oryx surrounded by the dogs, which were biting and attacking the animal.

The accused then apparently pelted the buck with stones until it died. They said that they did so as the animal was already dying.

This was in contrast to earlier evidence, where the accused’s legal representative had indicated that the animal was already dead when they arrived.

Dikoko also stated that they then went home and divided the meat amongst themselves, which they then ate.

Only the head and horns were discovered on the farm, after Kriek launched a search when it was found that the animal was not in its camp.

The case was postponed until later this week, when closing arguments are expected to be heard before judgment is delivered by Magistrate Veliswa Sityata.

According to Kriek Wildlife’s webpage, the black gemsbok/oryx colour variation is very rare.

“Mattanu has recently launched a breeding project to breed more of this beautiful colour variation. The black gemsbok has the same markings as normal gemsbok, but the colour is much darker and can vary from charcoal to completely black,” the site says.

According to the Kriek Wildlife Group journal, the black oryx was discovered by Johann Kriek Jnr while doing a game count in the Northern Cape in 2014.

“We darted a young bull and his mother while also darting other females from the herd. We proceeded to breed with the black gemsbok. The bull was too young at the time so we used a saddle back gemsbok to breed with. We were very happy to witness the first black calf being born within the first year of the project. The black bull will be placed with the black heifer as soon as they are both sexually mature.”

Diamond Fields Advertiser

 

Calvin Cottar of Cottar’s Camp, Maasai Mara says:

Wildlife has different values depending on what level one is living on in Abraham Maslows ‘hierarchy of needs’; if the law of the land only allows only the very few folks sitting at the very top of the ‘hiearchy of needs’ to capture the highest abstract value of wildlife – which is the case for most wild industry in africa (and especially so in the tourism, hunting and the wildlife philanthropy industries) – then there will always be fightback by the disenfranchised poor to remove wildlife and replace it completely on their own land or to ‘steal’ it from their rich neigbors – even if it is at a very very much lower nyala value..

It would really be useful for such big landowners in SA to think outside their fence lines and find ways for their poor and disenfranchised neighbors to benefit somehow from the higher abstract values possible from their wildlife.

If I were a rich landowner running wildlife in SA today, I would increase the size of my wildlife dispersal area by leasing land from my poorer local communities at a higher value than they could possibly receive from any other land use and make these lease payments conditional to the continued existence/improvements of wildlife stock on that land.

It might be beneficial for the South African game ranching industry to have a good look at our experiment of doing exactly this mechanism in the Maasai Mara Wildlife Conservancies in kenya. While our focus is on securing land for tourism, there is no reason why the same cannot be done for game ranching.

We all have to think ‘out of the box’ for wildlife to have any hope of surviving in the future…

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