Rhino poaching is currently at a crisis point. By the end of 2015, the number of African rhinos killed by poachers had increased for the sixth year in a row. At least 1,338 rhinos were killed by poachers across Africa in 2015. 1175 of these animals were poached in South Africa.
The current poaching crisis is attributed to the growing demand for rhino horn in Asian countries, mainly Vietnam and China. Vietnam has been identified as the largest user country of rhino horn. Although scientifically proven that rhino horn has no medicinal benefits, consumers are using it to treat a wide range of conditions. From cancer to hangovers to using it as an aphrodisiac. The high price fetched for the horn has attracted the involvement of ruthless criminal syndicates who use high-tech equipment to track down and kill the rhinos.
Today (19th August 2016), Kruger Park Ranger, Rodney Landela, and Vet Technician, Kenneth Muchocho, are in court for the bail hearing regarding their accused involvement in rhino poaching in Kruger National Park.
Warning: Some Graphic Images
Rodney Landela and Kenneth Muchocho were arrested in July after anti-poaching teams on patrol heard three gunshots. The anti-poaching rangers rushed in the direction of the gunshots to investigate. As they approached, they saw two men – one in a green ranger uniform and the other in khaki clothes – running towards a vehicle that was parked nearby.
The men got into the vehicle and sped off. The anti-poaching rangers came across the carcass of a white rhino that had obviously been poached just a few minutes before. The rangers gave chase and called for assistance. The SANParks helicopter and other rangers rushed to the scene.
The suspects’ vehicle was cut off by another group of rangers, who rushed to assist in the pursuit. Blood covered shoes were recovered from the vehicle. Later on, a high-calibre hunting rifle and two horns were recovered close by.
Rodney Landela has been in the Kruger National Park’s (KNP) service for 15 years. He has received several KNP Achievement Awards, most notably, an Individual Achievement Award in 2012. He is also highly regarded by the Game Rangers Association, of which he is an executive member. Additionally, he was recently trained to pilot a drone during anti-poaching operations. Furthermore, he was working on the rhino orphans programme, where orphaned rhino calves whose mothers had been killed by poachers, were ‘adopted’ by other rhino cows.
This is a man who was meant to be trusted. A man that was meant to protect rhinos. This is a man that has been highly regarded for his work in Kruger National Park.
Just who can we trust?