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5 FEBRUARY 2014
Minister Edna Molewa welcomes the R232.2 million grant received by Peace Parks Foundation from the Dutch and Swedish Postcode Lotteries to combat rhino poaching in southern Africa
South Africa’s Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Minister Edna Molewa has lauded the R232.2 million grant made to the Peace Parks Foundation by the Dutch and Swedish Postcode Lotteries.
The Dutch Postcode Lottery donated R217 million of the total donation, with R15.2 million being contributed by the Swedish Postcode Lottery, towards the fight against rhino poaching.
Minister Molewa said: “This is the largest single contribution made by the private sector to combat rhino poaching and wildlife crime. We welcome this public-private partnership to help ensure the survival of the species.”
The South African government and its public entities, South African National Parks (SANParks) and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (Ezemvelo), are working closely with Peace Parks Foundation to develop a multi-pronged approach to combat rhino poaching and wildlife crime.
The majority of this funding will be spent on enhancing the existing efforts to protect rhino in South Africa, which hosts 83% of the continent’s wild rhino population.
All other southern African rhino range states have been consulted during the development of this project and they will form an integral part of the strategies designed to save the species.
The main focus will be the devaluation of the horns of live rhino, through a combination of methods, including the physical devaluation and contamination of the horn, as well as the use of tracking and monitoring technology.
This special project has been designed to augment the procedures implemented by SANParks in the Kruger National Park and the Mozambican government in Limpopo National Park, both integral to the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. In particular, the emphasis will be on intelligence gathering and on technology applications such as conservation drones and other specialist equipment. It will also include training and capacity building, as well as incentives and rewards for rangers, communities and members of the public who support the conservation of rhino.
Ezemvelo will be supported with similar interventions to conserve South Africa’s second largest rhino population, that of KwaZulu-Natal. In September 2012, Ezemvelo became the first state conservation agency in Africa to trial the treatment of rhino horn to deter the rampant poaching of this species. Thanks to this innovative step, not a single rhino has been lost in the reserves where the treatment was piloted.
The R217 million (€14.4 million) cheque was received from the Dutch Prime Minister, Mr Mark Rutte and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, on behalf of the Dutch Postcode Lottery, by Mr Mavuso Msimang, the government’s Rhino Issue Task Manager and Peace Parks Foundation board member, Dr David Mabunda, CEO of SANParks, Dr Bandile Mkhize, CEO of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, and Mr Werner Myburgh, CEO of Peace Parks Foundation.
Minister Molewa added that: “This very generous donation gives new hope to save our rhino. I believe this grant from the Dutch and Swedish Postcode Lotteries will be the catalyst to turn the tide on rhino poaching and wildlife crime.”
Commenting on the grant, Peace Parks Foundation CEO, Mr Werner Myburgh said: “Peace Parks Foundation was established in 1997 to assist the region’s governments in their development of transfrontier conservation areas. Our biggest supporter in this endeavour has been the Dutch Postcode Lottery and more recently the Swedish Postcode Lottery. We thank the lotteries and their players for this tremendous support to combat wildlife crime and we look forward to working with the southern African governments in ensuring the survival of the region’s rhino.”
To view the donation handover ceremony, Click Here
For media queries, kindly contact:
Albi Modise on 083 490 2871
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS ON 05 FEBRUARY 2014 This message and any attachments transmitted with it are intended solely for the addressee(s) and may be legally privileged
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The Destruction Of Wildlife Must Stop – Now!
As ‘false prophets’ are raping our natural heritage
Dr Bandile Mkhize (CEO of Ezemvelo) Mr Timothy Ngubane Mr Sazi Mhlongo
“This cannot be allowed to continue. It must stop. Now!” This was the message of three leading voices in KZN conservation and traditional medicine following the poisoning of 37 white-backed vultures in KZN’s premier game reserve Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (HiP) recently.
And the one matter they agreed has to be addressed immediately is the urgent need to provide a formal register of all “genuine” traditional healers (Izinyanga) in KZN where all district municipalities must pay attention to this. Within a joint statement titled ‘The Destruction of Wildlife Must Stop’, Dr Bandile Mkhize, CEO of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (‘Ezemvelo’), Mr Sazi Mhlongo, head of the National Association of Traditional Healers and Mr Timothy Ngubane, chairperson of KZN’s Traditional Health Practitioners, collectively stated that such a registered database of Izinyanga would help control and formalise the ‘muti’ industry.
“As it stands now many collectors and harvesters of muti are just raping our natural heritage. It’s a money-making racket where people are posing as Izinyanga while making a quick buck. It’s a frightening scenario as there appears to be no control over their activities,” said Timothy Ngubane who is also the chairman of the umKhanyakude Izinyanga.
He also warned people of the real dangers in ingesting poisoned vulture parts as these were infected with lethal chemicals such as Temik. Ngubane added that he didn’t want to place all the blame on bone fide Izinyanga for what he called the “continuing decimation of wildlife and indigenous trees and plants in KZN by false prophets”.
“No, what we have here are other scavengers who are selling traditional Zulu customs down the drain. They are false prophets who often by-pass the real Izinyanga and sell their wares at major ‘muti’ markets, such as the Mona and Warwick Avenue outlets. It has to stop.”
The continued poisoning of vultures, they said, was “incredibly short-sighted, ill-informed and destructive” and called on people to appreciate how serious the position was, specifically that vultures could become extinct in five years. Mr Sazi Mhlongo, a traditional healer and member of ‘Ezemvelo’s’ Board, stated that “considerable falsehoods” were attached to the properties that wildlife parts played in traditional ‘muti’.
“Because vultures have exceptional eyesight and are highly efficient in finding carrion, people are told that by eating their heads and hearts they will become cleverer and these parts are subsequently used to help people pass exams, for example. This is crazy. They are destroying our natural heritage and threatening the balance of nature”.
He urged people to appreciate that if traditional medicine in the form of wildlife parts continues being exploited at the rate it is, they, Izinyanga and these “bogus healers” will be responsible for the collapse in numbers - and likely extinction - of various species, such as vultures: “This is not only destructive of God’s creatures but importantly will have a big impact on our tourism industry and the jobs created around it.”
He agreed with Mr Ngubane that a registered database of traditional Izinyanga must be compiled: “We must get this database urgently to help stop this abuse that pays absolutely no attention to sustainability. And then we need a campaign of sorts to expose the nonsense these bogus practitioners are spreading amongst our people.”
Dr Bandile Mkhize expressed equal concern, noting that if vultures continued to be poisoned at the present rate they might well become extinct in the next five years.
“This is dreadful. Do you think we at Ezemvelo have gone to all this trouble to help people understand the value of our rhinos only to have Izinyanga decimate another species in the form of our vultures? Our people must understand what an impact this poisoning is having on this species – and how this will affect our tourism industry, too.”
Apart from the important role vultures play in scavenging and controlling the spread of disease, Dr Mkhize said South Africa’s tourism market comprised many bird watchers: “If we continue to behave in this way, I can assure you it will impact on the numbers of people visiting our parks. And you know what that means.” On a broader scale but in a similar vein Dr Mkhize said Ezemvelo had helped establish an indigenous nursery in Maputaland to stop the destruction of indigenous trees and plants for ‘muti’ products.
“We started this some three years back to centralise and formalise the collection of such things as bark, roots and the like to provide on a sustainable basis the products that Izinyanga will need in this region. I am hoping to expand this scheme throughout the province when funds become available.”
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EZEMVELO KZN Wildlife’s (EKZNW) board has approved and adopted a new set of guidelines that people and businesses keeping — or intending to keep — wild animals in captivity must now consider. These came into operation yesterday.
Following a six-year-long public consultation process, head of Ezemvelo’s Scientific Services Dr Jean Harris said the real sense of accomplishment came from the vast majority of vested interests in KZN who helped compile these conditions.
“We encouraged an interactive process where people involved in the various categories of the captive wild animal industry could contribute to our framing these more humane terms and conditions. Not only have they willingly engaged in this process, but in a number of cases actually contributed towards the writing of these conditions,” she said.
Following the board’s approval, the new standards apply to such considerations as the size of enclosures, the physical treatment of wild animals and their use for commercial gain.
“As they embrace a collective psychology of compassion, we are confident that this more progressive sense of animal husbandry will filter through to other conservation agencies in South Africa.”
EKZNW CEO Dr Bandile Mkhize was adamant that his organisation had done everything possible over the years to address their own and South African citizens’ long-standing concerns about examples of abuse and cruelty of wild animals in captivity in KZN.
“It’s a travesty that many animals had to continue to suffer in appalling conditions for over six years while we resisted efforts of a few to halt the drafting process. But that is behind us now.”
Dr Harris said the absence of such standards in SA was in stark contrast to countries such as the UK, Australia and EU countries.
“Except in the case of falconry, the captive animal ‘industry’ in our country has not developed standards or created systems where self-regulation is effective. This is especially problematic when the keeping of animals is commercially motivated”.
Over the years, Ezemvelo has repeatedly discovered many circumstances where animals’ basic needs were not catered for.
“That is why these conditions now speak to elementary considerations such as providing clean drinking water at all times, supplying appropriate and sufficient food, not subjecting animals to physical abuse [such as beating or chaining] or solitary confinement of social species. They also specify the minimum size and design of enclosures and the minimum furnishings for animals’ behavioural needs as well as preventing over-crowding.”
The new ‘Terms and Conditions’ have been posted on the Ezemvelo website (Click Here to Download). It allows existing permit or licence holders reasonable time for them to upgrade their facilities in order to comply with the new terms.
“Of course, it also assures the public that unacceptable practices and facilities will be phased out to bring the keeping of all wild animals in captivity in KwaZulu-Natal up to contemporary standards – in a transparent and accountable manner”.
Article courtesy of the Natal Witness.
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14 YEARS ON AND HIS DREAM COMES TRUE!
…AS NEW ZULULAND COMMUNITY GAME RESERVE IS DECLARED
Dr Bandile Mkhize (CEO of Ezemvelo) Empembeni Nkosi Hlabisa
The long-awaited declaration of a new community game reserve in the heart of Zululand has happened! And for Nkosi Daniel Hlabisa of the Empembeni Traditional Authority, a 14 year-long dream has been realised following his original apportionment of this land for conservation purposes back in 2000. As Nkosi for the 22 000-strong Empembeni Traditional Authority, situated on the northern boundary of Hluhluwe Game Reserve near the town of Hlabisa, he, along with Durban developer and joint owner Henry Frencken, has just signed a 99-year lease with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (‘Ezemvelo’).
This ensures that 450ha of their land is not only declared a game reserve but in the process will fuse with KZN’s premier game reserve, the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (HiP). (It is anticipated that a further 350ha section of community land to the south of this reserve will join the Empembeni Game Reserve once it is up and running).
For Ezemvelo’s CEO Dr Bandile Mkhize, the proclamation reaffirmed his stance that the state cannot conserve KZN’s natural heritage without the support and involvement of KZN’s rural communities.
“It’s only when we remove those barriers to include communities as land and business partners that we will be able to truly say we are here to conserve the natural areas of this province for our future generations. Mayibuye iAfrika!” Dr Mkhize said Empembeni was an “uplifting” example of the promise that lay with rural communities engaging in conservation and tourism. “It goes to the heart of so much we aspire to at Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife; that is for rural communities to experience a meaningful income stream (coupled with employment opportunities) through eco-tourism partnerships that have as its foundation the protection of bio-diversity.”
Nkosi Hlabisa’s original ambition was thwarted owing to a lack of finance to build an eco-tourism lodge to ensure its financial sustainability. However, the loan finance has now been secured through Henry Frencken and the company Rhino Ridge Lodge (Pty) Ltd.
Understandably jubilant he said: “I have kept this reserve going for all this time by using it for limited hunting purposes but this was never my aim. I wanted this to become a proper eco-tourism venue to help uplift my people’s living standards and for them to appreciate the value of conservation.”
The lease entails permission for the construction of a four star, 3 800m2 tourism lodge, including villas as well as providing a conference room, pool & spa, external dining boma and covered parking. Frencken, who raised the loan with support of the National Empowerment Fund, said he was hoping to also erect a sophisticated tented camp of 980m2.
“Yes, it is all go and we might even be able to turn the first sod this year. It’s a genuinely wild part of Zululand with wonderful eco-tourism potential. Its fusion with HiP adds a weighty dimension to its overall attraction,” he said. Only once the construction was completed would the fence boundary with HiP be removed. In the meantime the fences demarcating the Empembeni game reserve have already been erected.
Frencken said guests will be able to take game drives into HiP as well as undertake guided trails within the Empembeni game reserve: “I am considering engaging with the Wilderness Leadership School in order that they can conduct trails in the spirit envisioned by Dr Ian Player”.