I thank you for the opportunity to share a matter of great concern to not only myself, but to all the rhino and game reserve owners in the Waterberg. Some of us are aware of the huge looming threat of rhino poaching in our area, and some still have not realised how extremely vulnerable we are to what seems to be military-styled and efficient poaching syndicates. There is enough evidence to suggest that the ever increasing Eastern influence across Africa has brought a very hungry market for rhino horn to our doorsteps. So far, 33 have been poached in South Africa since the beginning of the year, with last year's tally being nearly 140 animals. The Waterberg alone has tragically had rhino killed at the Rhino Museum, Welgevonden and Kamonande, just outside of Vaalwater. Five rhinos in the Vaalwater vicinity!
We, as the custodians of the rhino, have to rely on our own resources now to protect this valuable resource, as the Government seems to have neither the will nor ability to help us. It is thus vital that we are coordinated and linked to other concerned members as there are structures emerging where information is shared, and security coordinated. There can be no tolerance of any individuals in our area who are found to be associated with this illegal, inhumane activity.
Unfortunately, what often occurs when a carcass is found is that people contaminate what is really a crime scene, making the job of the forensic teams extremely difficult as many a vital clue or bit of evidence is destroyed by the curious. Communication is vital between rhino owners and both the formal and informal security sectors, who can assist in either apprehending poachers or making the area uncomfortable for them to operate in. There are structures available here in the Waterberg that one can belong to, at no expense, that can make all the difference.
There are often many signs to look out for if one is informed, and measures can be taken to make your rhino less of a target. General farm security can go hand in hand with protecting one's rhino. It is thus vital that we get together and discuss how we are to protect both ourselves and our rhino in this area. We look forward to discussing this at the next Conservancy meeting.