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Mon Nov 24 11:19:52 SAST 2014

SA is failing its heritage

SCHALK MOUTON | 26 November, 2012 00:29
Rhino at the Finfoot Lake Reserve, in North West, where eight rhino were killed by poachers at the weekend. South African farmers are now exporting their rhino to Botswana and Namibia for safekeeping because of poaching Picture: DANIEL BORN

With their tough stance, effective regulations and legislation against rhino poaching, Namibia and Botswana might soon become Africa's only rhino sanctuaries.

South Africa's rhino farmers have started to export their rhino to these countries for safekeeping. But once they are there it is virtually impossible to get them back.

Botswana's President Ian Khama has taken a zero-tolerance approach to rhino poaching. It is believed that he has issued "shoot to kill" orders against poachers but his spokesman, Jeff Ramsay, denied this.

"We have at times killed poachers," said Ramsay. "But we certainly don't have a shoot to kill policy."

Earlier this year Khama said: "We are using our security forces to protect our rhino and [other] wildlife. They should be warned that coming into Botswana to poach would be a very high risk undertaking. I n this country, wildlife protection is a national priority ."

In 1992 Botswana had only 19 white rhino and the black rhino was classified as "locally extinct". In March, it had 140 white rhino, most of them privately owned. Realising that most of his country's GDP is generated through ecotourism, Khama has introduced a hunting ban on public land.

"As of January 1 2014, there will be no commercial hunting on public lands," said Ramsay.

Mark Prangley, a wildlife capturer, said last week that eight rhino had been moved to Namibia. He would not say where the animals were from.

Ramsay said Botswana's strategy was effective because of cooperation between the community, the police and the army.

Pelham Jones, chairman of the SA Rhino Owners' Association, said Namibia had a similar approach.

"When we take our kids to show them [rhino], all we will be able to say is: 'We used to have them'," said Mark Lappeman, on whose farm eight rhino were killed at the weekend.

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