Friday, 3 February 2012

First hint of punishment for rhino poachers - what will come?

After a 2011 that saw rhino poaching in South Africa, which has the vast majority of the remaining rhinos in the world, 2012 began quietly but the new month has seen a revelation I did not expect or have any clues about: that the South African government has sentenced three Mozambicans to twenty-five years jail for their involvement in the slaughter of about three percent of the country's rhinos during 2011 and two and a half percent in 2010. The three men's names are:
  • Aselmo Baloyi
  • Jawaki Nkuna
  • Ismael Baloyi
and they have also been sentenced for the possession of illegal firearms (assault rifle, hunting rifle and axe) according to Daly News Reporter.

Owners of private game reserves are very happy with the stiff sentence handed out to the Baloyis and Nkuna, having indeed lobbied the South African government to do this for some time.

Governments in Africa have often had problems with their involvement with rhino poachers, and their incentive to support them under such circumstances is almost certainly a recipe for disaster. If South Africa's government realises that in the long term there is immense value in retaining the country's amazing ancient biodiversity (which, unlike that of Australia does gain some protection under the free market solely because of such "prize" animals as the rhino) it would redirect some of its earnings to more efficient punishment of poachers. Poachers often have friends in high places abroad, and the ultimate goal would be to ostracise those countries whose governments are infested with people trading in endangered species especially in an environment like South Africa's.

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