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~ Drop In Heists Linked to Poaching ~
2011-07-19 14:08 - Lauren Hess
Cape Town - There is a direct link between the drop in cash-in-transit heists and ATM bombings and the recent spike in rhino poaching, an activist told News24 on Tuesday.
Paul Jennings, an anti-poaching activist with Rights for Rhinos, said that two reliable sources revealed information about the link between the heists and poaching.
Jennings has walked almost 2 000km with Sboniso Phakathi from Musina in Limpopo to Cape Town as part of a campaign to promote what they call the "genocide" of rhinos.
A former conservationist, Jennings said one of the sources had looked into the calibre of weapons used in poaching.
"They're [poachers] using a whole range of weapons, sometimes they're even using even small calibres, like a 5.56 [light machine gun]... which is normally used for shooting people or can be used for shooting small antelope or springbok, Jennings told News24 at a campaign on Robben Island on Monday.
"But with a rhino, they'll shoot that animal so many times that the animal will eventually die," he added.
One poacher was even found with a hand grenade recently. . . .
He said that this pointed to the fact that the poachers were not skilled hunters, but ordinary people who were most likely employed by others . . . Phakathi said the on-the-ground poachers were most likely poor people who were desperate for money.
Jennings also said one of his sources had evidence of a link between a drop in heists and ATM bombings and a spike in poachings.
Jennings also criticised the government’s recently set-up National Wildlife Crime Reaction Unit (NWCRU), saying that it was "not sufficient".
He said that with two investigators per province, it was unevenly spread in terms of where rhino poaching happens. He also criticised the fact that the unit only had one prosecutor.
However, Jennings, did have high praise for the recent introduction of DNA technology in the fight against poaching.
He said that if every rhino, not just in the country, but on the continent, were to get tagged, poachers would definitely think twice before shooting.
Jennings said on Tuesday that he had just received word that two more rhino had been shot dead . . . That takes the total of rhino that have been shot dead so far this year to 220.