In recognising the urgent need to curb rhino poaching in South Africa, the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) has developed a guide to help rhino owners and managers improve security and thereby prevent rhino poaching on their properties. It also aims to contribute to improved conviction rates for poaching and related offences.
The guide, which takes the form of a comprehensive booklet, provides a wide range of information on legislation relevant to rhino conservation and trade issues, the permit requirements both locally and internationally for all activities related to rhino, and recommends standard operating procedures for rhino horn stockpile management, crime scene management and means of improving the security of live rhino.
It also contains useful national and provincial contacts, emergency contact details and a range of blank forms for use in the field to help rhino owners and managers improve the security of their rhinos in an effective and affordable manner.
The toolkit was developed over several months by the Endangered Wildlife Trust with funding from the SA Mint and the International Rhino Foundation and is being distributed to private rhino owners and managers, provincial and national authorities, the National Prosecuting Authority, members of the SAPS and a range of other individuals involved in law enforcement and conservation.
Four main sections
1) A short history of rhino on the African continent: This section explains the current conservation status of rhinos globally, with particular focus on South Africa as the stronghold for both black and white rhino.
It briefly explores the history of rhino conservation, including the relentless hunting of black rhino in the 19th century across most of central-West and Eastern Africa, and the remarkable recovery of the southern white rhino population as a result of dedicated conservation efforts.
2) Legal aspects pertaining to rhinos in South Africa: A brief outline of existing legislation and its relevance to rhinos and rhino management in South Africa is provided in this section. It covers provincial, national and international legislation and outlines the different types of permits and CITES appendices relevant to rhinos.
3) Standard operating procedures for the management of rhino horn stockpiles and rhino poaching crime scenes: Rhino horn stockpiles in private possession are normally derived through trophy hunting, natural causes or management actions such as dehorning. This section therefore guides rhino owners with rhino horns in their possession regarding management of these.
It furthermore provides guidance on effective management of a rhino poaching crime scene to maximise the chances of successful prosecution.
4) Strengthening the security of rhino through pro-active prevention methods: Every rhino owner is responsible for the security and protection of their rhino. This section therefore provides various principles for and methods of securing properties so as to effectively and affordably safeguard rhino against poachers.
First hand experience
Rhino poaching in South Africa has escalated rapidly since 2008 and has spread from historically targeted protected areas to privately owned populations. South Africa holds about 93 percent of the African populations of Near Threatened southern white rhino, Ceratotherium simum and Critically Endangered black rhino, Diceros bicornis, which is slowly recovering from a 90 percent decline in the 1970s.
The toolkit is just one step towards combating rhino poaching and has already received excellent feedback. Anton Nel of the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve says: "We have just received the booklet and want to congratulate the EWT on the quality of the booklet. A reserve bordering us had the unfortunate event this past weekend of losing a rhino bull to poachers.
Colin, our Warden who originally requested the booklet from you, assisted extensively with the crime scene investigation and it was evident that most people involved (especially the local Police Service) were out of their depth and did not really know what or how to assess and analyse the situation and the crime scene itself.
Colin has done a course on crime scene investigations and could luckily assist, learning and recovering valuable information and evidence in the process. The first-hand experience highlighted the importance of sensitising people (especially rhino owners and law enforcers) and educating them in this 'unknown' territory.
Your booklet will be a benchmark in this process and we hope it will reach many readers." To order a copy of the rhino booklet please contact Kirsty Brebner on Kirstyb@ewt.org.za or 011 327 3600.