Monday, 16 April 2012

A new rhinoceros poaching syndicate

In recent years, rhinoceros poaching in South Africa has been largely blamed on the Stalinist nations of Vietnam and China, along with Taiwan. As I have noted in a previous post, many politicians in those nations believe rhinoceros horn can cure cancer and other diseases, despite a total lack of serious evidence.

Today, in Eyewitness News, there is a discussion of another rhinoceros poaching syndicate from another Asian country that has lost its entire rhinoceros population: Thailand. Chumlong Lemtongthai allegedly leads this four-man syndicate and was supposedly in South Africa on a tourist visa. Critics argue he actually had government connections with South Africa: if he did, it makes it even harder to argue the South African government can be entrusted with the protection of rhinoceroses, even though three other Thais have been forced behind bars for their efforts smuggling horn in a manner I did not know about.

Journalists in South Africa admit that there are many problems with means used to conserve rhinoceroses. Military patrols - which are much truer “defence” than almost anything modern militaries actually do - are being expanded by the South African government and could make it much more difficult for poachers to get to rhinoceroses. The best bet, however, is to keep and hold poachers far from the animals, so that rhinoceroses are never threatened in the first place. That, however, has the trouble of how to identify poachers and how much “false identification” can be tolerated? There is late news of efforts to do this by DNA screening, but whether as is claimed Vietnam and China will be cooperative is very hard to determine.

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