The 112 rhino horns were locked up in inadequately secured MTPA offices, and as yet the question has not been answered why the South African government is not securing these high-value items more tightly.
It’s a thorny question, since the items – despite being of such high value – are regarded as unethical produce.
Nonetheless, from a security perspective, the MTPA offices are a weak link. They are situated a mere 90 minutes from Mozambique, the hub of wildlife criminals in Southern Africa, and the capital, Maputo, is often the transit point for horns being moved for shipment to Vietnam or China.
These particular stolen horns were allegedly micro-chipped and DNA samples obtained. However, a delay in signing a properly executed Memorandum of Understanding between South Africa and Mozambique could potentially hinder retrieval of the horns from the criminal syndicates involved.
The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, and the Mozambican Minister of Tourism, Carvalho Muária, signed a Memorandum of Understanding in the field of Biodiversity Conservation and Management at Skukuza in the Kruger National Park on 17 April this year.
According to a statement by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), “The development of a Joint Operations Cross Border Protocol by the park management will, once approved by the safety and security clusters of the two countries, provide for joint cross-border operations”. Minister Molewa also stated that “within the coming months, a further diplomatic agreement will be signed by South Africa and Mozambique to ensure the MOU comes into force”.
Yet a bilateral meeting already took place on 14 June 2013 in Maputo, Mozambique, between Minister Molewa and Minister Muária, during which the requirement of a government-to-government MOU on Cooperation in the field of Biodiversity, Conservation and Management was acknowledged.
One can therefore deduce that the MOU still does not facilitate the retrieval of the 80kg of rhino horn stolen over the weekend. This year already over 300 rhinos have been killed by criminals in South Africa, of which at least 185 were in Kruger National Park (KNP). Since 2010, a total of 1,614 rhinos have been slaughtered in the KNP, with the majority of onslaughts emanating from Mozambique. Four years later, there are still no effective measures from the South African government to curb the threat emanating from its neighbour state.
At a recent international conference on the assessment of rhino horn trade, hosted by OSCAP on 8-9 April, 19 international speakers with over 400 cumulative years’ experience in the fields of law, economics, wildlife conservation, wildlife trafficking, veterinary science, NGO involvement, conservation finance/marketing and business expressed their opinions that any form of legalised trade in rhino horn was unlikely to succeed. (A report on the OSCAP conference is soon to be released.)
The Department of Environmental Affairs did not attend the conference. The consensus, however, was along the following lines:
The latest theft, then, appears to be just a symptom of the ongoing destruction of Africa’s wildlife heritage. DM
Want to watch Richard Poplak’s audition for SA’s Got Talent?
Who doesn’t? Alas, it was removed by the host site for prolific swearing*... Now that we’ve got your attention, we thought we’d take the opportunity to talk to you about the small matter of book burning and freedom of speech.
Since its release, Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s book Gangster State, has sparked numerous fascist-like behavior from certain members of the public (and the State). There have been planned book burnings, disrupted launches and Ace Magashule has openly called him a liar. And just to say thanks, a R10m defamation suit has been lodged against the author.
Pieter-Louis Myburgh is our latest Scorpio Investigative journalist recruit and we’re not going to let him and his crucial book be silenced. When the Cape Town launch was postponed, Maverick Insider stepped in and relocated it to a secure location so that Pieter-Louis’ revelations could be heard by the public. If we’ve learnt one thing over the past ten years it is this: when anyone tries to infringe on our constitutional rights, we have to fight back. Every day, our journalists are uncovering more details and evidence of State Capture and its various reincarnations. The rot is deep and the threats, like this recent one to freedom of speech, are real. You can support the cause by becoming an Insider and help free the speech that can make a difference.
*No video of Richard Poplak auditioning for SA’s Got Talent actually exists. Unless it does and we don’t know about it please send it through.
In 1952 Wernher von Braun wrote a paper where he believed a colony on Mars would be led by an individual named "Elon".