I have just found an article in one of our newspapers here in SA witten by Michael Appel in April 2013 and thought this might interest you all and show why we have to keep asking all our friends to sign and share this petition!
With great BIG Rhino hugs and thanks from all the living Rhinos!
As the saying goes: “Fences only keep honest thieves out.” Nowhere is this more true than along the Kruger National Park’s roughly 200km border with Mozambique.
According to rhino poaching statistics and evidence, respect for the country’s border is sorely missing between South Africa and Mozambique.
Head of Kruger’s anti-poaching operations, retired Maj-Gen Johan Jooste, said between 80% and 90% of poachers enter the park through Mozambique. While some may argue that this does not guarantee that they are Mozambican nationals, the poachers who are caught and questioned tell a different tale. The park, which is 400km long and 60km wide, is divided horizontally into 22 sections, each with their own section ranger.
Letaba section ranger, Andrew Desmet said: “Every time we are in a contact (firefight) situation with poachers they are Mozambican. From the language they speak to the food we find with them, it all comes from Mozambique. The vast majority of poachers are recruited from villages within Mozambique’s national park.”
A reasonably sturdy fence used to traverse the length of the park along the Mozambique border. This was more to keep our animals in than anyone else out.
On December 9, 2002, the presidents of South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe signed an international treaty at Xai-Xai, Mozambique, to establish the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. This treaty would ultimately result in about 50km of fence being dropped at three places along the SA/Mozambique border to increase the habitat of the wildlife and encourage them to roam free between the countries’ nature reserves.
Desmet, has to patrol a 38km stretch of the border with only 15 field rangers, 10 of whom are on duty at one time. Desmet believes the fence should be re-erected. He wants greater political will within Mozambique to fight rhino poaching, as he feels there is gross corruption and involvement, even in Mozambican conservation circles, in rhino poaching.
“We do have an agreement with our Mozambican counterparts (fellow rangers) to take action when poachers have just crossed the border, but it doesn’t result in anything. There is so much corruption. Even (Mozambican) field rangers have been arrested for poaching. Seldom do we hear of anyone getting arrested there,” he said.
Mbongeni Tukela, KNP ranger corps support coordinator, also believes putting new fences up will at least make it easier to detect where poachers are crossing into the park. “With fences up, we can detect where the poachers are entering and without them we cannot, so in this respect, I believe that fences are of benefit,” Tukela said.
While the initiative may have had good intentions, it has resulted in free rein for rhino poachers in Mozambique, where poaching is considered a misdemeanour offence, and where illegal possession of a firearm is a greater crime than being caught with rhino horn.
South Africa, at a ministerial level, is in ongoing discussions with their Mozambican counterparts regarding the erection of a R250m electric fence along the border.