Poaching in Hluhluwe game reserve is happening and can become a big problem.
Rhino poaching in South Africa and indeed in Africa has become a major problem it is said that one rhino is being killed every 20hrs at this rate it is predicted that the Rhino will be extinct in the next 20 yrs. Rhino poaching has become big business. The price of Rhino horn at the moment is worth more than gold. (45 000 US Dollars a kilogram) The rhino poaches are now starting to use choppers to fly into a reserve shoot the animal from the sky land chop the horn off and fly out again before any anti poaching unit can get to them.
The reason for the recent rise in rhino poaching, has been the result of a Vietnamese minister saying on national television that he was cured of cancer after he had taken a tablet with rhino horn in it. The rhino poachers are not fussy, they will kill “Black Rhino or White Rhino” the White Rhino are easier to find and there are more of them as a result most of the rhinos poached are White Rhino.
Hluhluwe game reserve have a very effective Anti poaching unit with a lot more guards at their disposal, as a result the numbers of rhino being poached in Hluhluwe game reserve are generally lower that a lot of the other parks in South Africa. You may bump into the anti poaching guards when driving around the park, they will be clothed in green uniform with the KZN Wildlife logos and will be heavily armed. Rhino poachers use high calibre rifles and it can become a bit of a war zone if the anti poaching unit come across poachers and get fired upon. Rhino poachers are now starting to target smaller private game reserves, because at the moment they are softer targets.
To cut the horn off a rhino is not necessarily the answer to the problem.
These are rhino horn “Stumps” (Picture right) Even these small horns are worth a lot of money. A lot of fund raising and education is done to help fight this problem. Recently two ex employees of KZN wildlife Paul Jennings and Sboniso Phakhthi (Spoon) walked from Masina to Cape Town. It took them 3 months and along the way they went to 25 schools approximately 16500 kids were taught about the plight of the rhino. They also did lots of community education and raised about R70 000
Rhinos are not the only animals that are poached in Hluhluwe game reserve, general game is captured in snares and is sold as “Bush meat” this type of poaching does not get as much publicity as rhino poaching does, but it is a huge problem. Then there’s the poaching of animals for medicinal use, here often birds like vultures are killed.