Thanks to public participation, exhaustive investigations and grim determination, several rhino were saved from poachers caught this week, signaling a turnaround in policing techniques and hope for further arrests and convictions.
Rhino Action Group Effort (RAGE) spokesperson Pelham Jones says the fight against rhino poaching has been largely reactive in the past: “The authorities would be alerted after rhino carcasses were found and leads at the scene may have led to arrests, but the result was the same – the rhino was already lost to us.
“Thanks to special investigations being funded by RAGE, we are focusing on proactive investigations based on information collected from the public and intensive investigations by the SAPS Hawks and Crime Intelligence.”
A three-week undercover investigation resulted in 15 poachers being arrested, four vehicles confiscated, six weapons recovered and three horns retrieved this week in the areas of Kameeldrift, Rooiberg, Assen, Soshganguve and Beestekraal.
“The best part of the entire investigation is that no rhino were killed. These poachers were apprehended on their way to poach horn and not after,” Jones says. “And we believe this action may lead to even more arrests.”
RAGE was set up by LeadSA (a Primedia Broadcasting and Independent Newspapers initiative) to assist in the fight against the illegal rhino poaching scourge.
Specifically, RAGE was designed to be a safe conduit for public contributions to this cause, whether they be financial, material or in the form of skills and information.
RAGE is aware of a huge groundswell of public huge groundswell of public support for campaigns to protect the rhino, but that many people are deterred from contributing either because they are unable to decide which of the many rhino-related organisations they should support, or because they are afraid that their donations may be diverted into the wrong hands. RAGE was therefore conceived as a safe haven for public contributions, so that people can with confidence turn their anger into effective action.
RAGE does not directly carry out work on the ground, but supports those who do. When contributions are received, whether monetary or in kind (or expertise), RAGE's committee of volunteer experts (ecologists, game reserve owners, members of government, media professionals, economists etc.) collectively decides where they can best be utilized within the framework of a “National Needs Analysis” and KPMG ensures that the process of transferring the funds is carried out correctly and that they are properly accounted for to LeadSA, to the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, and to all other interested stakeholders.
Jones believes this is the first sign of how effective public awareness can be as individuals provide relevant information to authorities.
RAGE has the full support of Conservation NGOs, the South African Police and of South African National Parks.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Cheryl Hunter on firstname.lastname@example.org
Other contact details:
The Crime Line toll-free hotline: 0800 205 005
(National Wildlife Crime Reaction Unit)
Turn your anger into effective action. Go to www.rhinoactiongroup.org