(2013-04-20) Mozambican rhino poachers are seen as benefactors by their communities. This is according to Regional Ranger, Louis Olivier. Olivier says poachers build mansions for themselves in their villages with the money they make from rhino poaching in the Kruger National Park.
Olivier says the poachers share their wealth with the village once they get paid for poached rhino horns. He says it is custom for a poacher to slaughter a cow if he has been successful and to invite up to 200 people to share in the feast.
Poachers have meanwhile killed more than 203 rhinos in South Africa so far this year. The Environmental Ministry says the Kruger National Park remains the hardest hit, with dozens of raids by poachers. Fifty incursions were recorded by rangers in just 12 days last month. Last year, just 668 rhinos were killed.
The fight against rhino poachers has been hampered by the breakdown of the genetic analyser machine, RHODIS, used to link confiscated horns to poaching sites with DNA.
This provides prosecutors scientific evidence to link rhino horns to specific incidents. The profiling is being done by the Faculty of Veterinary Science of the University of Pretoria. The database contains DNA of six-thousand rhinos so far. The machine crashed due to huge pressure of the DNA project.
Sanparks spokesperson, Rey Thakuli says: “There are some challenges in terms of servicing the machine and obviously it is a machine that is quite expensive, therefore we need all sorts of help that we can assist the University of Pretoria to operate the machine”.
Thakuli says all South Africans are called to join hands to make sure the machine is operating.