The South African
There is an enemy within.
By Siviwe Breakfast – 2017-11-28
South African National Parks (SanParks) managing exec Glenn Phillips believe efforts to curb rhino poaching face a huge challenge because of game rangers who work hand-in-hand with the poachers.
Phillips says he is aware of such syndicates at the Kruger National Park, and SanParks are collaborating with the police in order to bring these perps to book.
“We unfortunately have crooks‚ like in any other organisation‚” he said.
On Sunday morning three men, Emmanuel Mdlhuli, Xongani Mathebula and Walter Mhangani were busted in the act of dehorning the second of three rhinos they shot and killed after rangers were alerted by the sound of gun shots and rushed to the scene.
They face charges ranging from trespassing, possession of an unlicensed firearm and possession of unlicensed ammunition among others.
“We will continue with ongoing investigations in the park – because we cannot afford to have people working for us and being part of syndicates‚” Phillips said.
He also mentioned other creative ways poachers have cooked up in order to gain entry into the park, including masquerading as tourists.
“We also have situations where people drive in as tourists‚ but they are actually going to poach. We have to find a balance between creating a service attitude at the gate for tourists‚ (and facilitating effective security by the) police and the army‚” he said.
One way to root out this scourge is by nabbing the kingpins in these syndicates and Phillips expressed concern that it’s only the foot soldiers doing the dirty work that are ever brought to book.
“This is an organised-crime situation‚” Phillips added.
“The people who have been arrested or killed are just foot soldiers‚ who have been sent in with a promise of easy money – but [their arrest] doesn’t only impact on them; it is also very difficult for their families.”