Dear President Zuma
Today I will start off by commending the Hawks (THE GOOD). Their seizure operation last week on Dawie Groenewald and some of his cohorts is to be commended, indeed even celebrated. We have been feeling pretty despondent about this case and that fact that it kept getting postponed. Knowing that he was free to continue his disgusting work has been a really bitter pill to swallow. However, we are now encouraged that justice for the rhino will at last prevail. Please thank the Hawks for their excellent and thorough work.
Last week we lost another seven rhino (THE BAD). Despite the fact that poachers have been arrested and/or killed, we are still not winning the war. Kruger continues to be hit daily and one has to seriously question the capabilities of some of the SanParks staff. In fact, one has to question the ethics as well. Security checks on day visitors is, in some instances, totally lacking. Army presence is scarce. An awareness drive also non-existent. It is very easy to lay the blame at the feet of Zimbabweans and Mozambicans – always the scapegoats in any issue in this country. However, one would do well to be looking closer to home. Yet more letters in the paper this past weekend commenting on how run down the camps in Kruger are. A truly sad indictment on the management in SanParks – was anyone to think about conducting a performance review on them, they would fail dismally, yet they continue to be gainfully employed.
The time is long past declaring a moratorium on all rhino hunting permits, carrying out an independent census on the number of rhino we actually have left in the wild and declaring Kruger a disaster area.
Minister Molewa has recently been talking about considering legalising the trade in rhino horn. Whenever and wherever this subject is mentioned you hear two spokesmen – John Hume and Pelham Jones. These “gentlemen” will have you believe that this is the only way to save the rhino. The attached article from The Times this weekend speaks volumes about John Hume’s “love” for the animals and his commitment to conservation (THE DOWNRIGHT UGLY). I sincerely hope that you are able to recognise the gross disregard for the animals, for conservation and in fact for anything other than filling their pockets – something that is unfortunately a social ill in this country today. Please do not be swayed by their all too frequent utterances. Far better to get input from people who have no money to make from the outcome, one way or the other.
Whilst the rhino are of grave concern due to the ongoing daily butchery, I would also draw your attention to the plight of the lions who are slipping under the radar.
Lion numbers in the wild are diminishing rapidly, due to disease and hunting. Hunters want male lions. Every time one of them is killed, there is a pride take over by another male lion who, in the way of nature, will kill off any cubs that are not his. This cycle continues each time a male lion is hunted, thus greatly reducing numbers even further – not to mention hammering the gene pool.
Now the Chinese are using our lions for bone as they have successfully brought the tiger to the brink of extinction. Once they have done the same to our rhino and lions, where will they turn? I would ask you to check the export stats and take note of how many live lions, skeletons, skulls and teeth were exported to Asian countries over the last couple of years.
This too has to stop before it is too late. One cannot take the number of captive lions into account and say our lions are safe. These lions can never be released into the wild as they have been habituated to humans by being hand reared. In turn they feed the canned hunting industry which is the biggest disgrace this country has even been party to. A disgrace that was almost stopped until the people responsible cried foul about the damage to their bank accounts.
Why is it, I have to ask, that whenever money is flashed around decency, respect and compassion fly out the window?
Daily we are beset in the news with stories of corruption, collusion and fraud. Add to that what is happening with the rhino, SanParks and the lions and we look like a country that has totally lost the plot.