South Africa: Major boost in the fight against rhino poaching
The South African National Parks (SANParks) has enlisted the help of Crime Line and its partner, Crime Stop in the fight against rhino poaching.
The 'Rhino Alive' campaign was launched at Skukuza in the Kruger National Park (KNP) today.
618 rhino have been slaughtered in the country since the beginning of the year - almost 50% in the Kruger Park alone. The KNP's rhinos account for 60% of the country and 40% of world's rhino population.
In his address, SANParks CEO, Dr David Mabunda said they are expecting another 22 rhino to be slaughtered in the KNP before the end of 2012.
In a major boost to hunt down rhino poachers and kingpins, SANParks announced massive rewards for information that leads to arrests and convictions.
A reward of R100 000 is offered to anyone with information regarding rhino poaching in South Africa's national parks, while a reward of R1-million has been placed on the heads of syndicate bosses.
Mabunda also announced the appointment of Major-General (retired) Johan Jooste to oversee the overall anti-poaching operations in the park.
Jooste, who brings with him vast experience in military intelligence, border and area protection has embraced his new role at SANParks, saying he will do his best to bring "acceptable results".
"We are going to war with these armed bandits and we aim to win it," said Jooste.
The aim of the 'Rhino Alive' initiative is to reduce rhino poaching between 10% and 18% every year for the next five years.
"We know that we will not be able to put a ranger behind every rhino. Thus we need to develop innovative modern ways of protecting the rhino in the wake of this well-organised onslaught," said Mabunda.
In his speech, Head of Crime Line, Yusuf Abramjee, said the recent spike in rhino poaching is demanding intensified action "to smoke out the perpetrators and requires a zero-tolerance stance."
Abramjee, who is also the Second Vice President of Crime Stoppers International (CSI), indicated that the 'Rhino Alive' campaign also enjoys global support.
"Crime knows no borders and even if the kingpins are outside South Africa's borders, we need to hunt them down. The number of rhino being killed is worrying and it's clearly a crisis. We need to stop the madness and get the poachers and their bosses behind bars. They are threatening our heritage," he said.
The initiative will utilise the 32211 SMS service and Crime Stop's 08600 10111 number to allow for the flow of information that will be passed on to authorities to act. Tipsters can also submit tip-offs online at www.crimeline.co.za.
Abramjee urged tipsters to be as detailed as possible when passing on information.
"Crime Line and Crime Stop are anonymous. However, to qualify for a reward, you need to include your name and contact details in the tip-off. The rewards are also subject to the successful conviction of a rhino poacher or kingpin.
"There is little doubt that the rhino poaching syndicates are well funded and resourced. It's time for us to Lead SA and blow the whistle on them. If not, the rhino population will continue to decline and it will be too late if we don't act," he said.
Abramjee also announced today that Crime Line will be offering an incentive to game rangers committed to the fight against rhino poaching. The tip-off service will be rewarding the most active rangers on an annual basis during the course of the campaign.
In closing, he issued a stern warning to rhino poachers and their handlers: "Your days are numbered and we will find you.
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