Wednesday, June 13, 2012

South Africa's Animal Rights Activists Demand Justice Against Rhino Poachers

White rhinoceros

The nation of South Africa has so far lost a total of 245 rhinos to poachers since the beginning of the year, according to the Department of Environmental Affairs. Last year, amidst the bloodshed, authorities were able to arrest eight people, including two veterinarians and one professional hunter on charges relating to distribution and possession of a tranquilizing drug used by rhino poachers. As the three suspects were brought to the North Regional Court in Pretoria on Wednesday, several animal rights activists followed. Among the accused included Dr. Douw Grobler, an animal conservation expert and former head of wildlife capturing and veterinary services of Kruger National Park. The other two charged were private veterinarian Dr. Johannes Gerhardus Kruger, and professional hunter and animal farmer Hugo Ras. It is declared that the trio contributed to the poaching of rhinos by providing a poaching syndicate with tranquilizer darts. The drug, known as M99 or etorphine, was assertedly used to dart the animals before removing their horns. The case has been postponed until June 19th. However, the activists stated that they would follow the case until its conclusion. Among the participants present were the Outraged South African Citizens Against Poaching (OSCAP), a Pretoria-based animal rights group whose members stated that the government had to crucially improve public awareness on poaching.

This article gives a clear representation of the public's reaction against the ongoing massacre of South Africa's rhinos. Over the past few years, the numbers of these majestic creatures has been diminishing as poaching syndicates consisting of professional hunters and veterinarians who would supply the poachers with tranquilizing drugs in order to hunt down the rhinos. The two veterinarians mentioned in this article were among eight suspects arrested last year on charges relating to the distribution and possession of this drug. The remaining five suspects included Dr. Buti Chibase, a state veterinarian from Klerksdorp, followed by Matthys Christoffel Scheepers, Riaal Booysen, Boksburg Veterinarian Dr. Johan Hendrik Meyer, and Christoffel Francois Naude. All eight of these suspects appeared in the Pretoria North Magistrate's Court in March, but the charges against them were withdrawn in April because of insufficient evidence. What truly shocks me about this ongoing catastrophe is that the people involved did not only include poachers, but also veterinarians whom the public perceives as individuals committed to helping save lives of animals rather than kill them. This really goes to show that poaching is South Africa has reached an all-time high, and it needs to be addressed by the government through public awareness in order to help put a stop to it. Furthermore, the threat of poaching has tremendously affected the tourist industry such that people visiting the national parks may not get to see a rhinoceros about. This is why it is extremely crucial to combat poaching of rhinos and other animals in South Africa, otherwise the problem will continue to spread rapidly across the nation and would exceed beyond the borders and into surrounding regions.

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