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Visitors to Rietvlei urges not to post photos of rhinos on social media platforms

"Opportunities for poachers are limited by the number of visitors to the reserve. The more visitors to the reserve the less opportunity for poachers to kill these animals for their horns."

The Rietvlei nature reserve has called on visitors not to upload any photos of the rhinos on social media until they have been de-horned later this year.

Tersia Jooste of Rhino Connect said that three weeks prior to the shortening of the horns was a high-risk period, as poachers stayed informed of the de-horning.

“Therefore, it is important not to post photos of rhinos prior to the de-horning process on any social media platform.

“Opportunities for poachers are limited by the number of visitors to the reserve. The more visitors to the reserve the less opportunity for poachers to kill these animals for their horns,” Jooste said.

“The public must use the opportunity to visit the reserve. The general idea is for the reserve to attract as many visitors as possible to lessen opportunities for poachers.

“Visitors are not to only make use of main routes, but also follow secondary routes and, therefore, help control border fences to check whether they have been tampered with,” said Jooste.

ALSO READ: Newbies at Rietvlei Nature Reserve

She said that the cost to shorten rhino’s horns, were extremely high.

“If only a ground team works together to dart and shorten the rhino’s horns can cost up to R12 000 per rhino. If a helicopter team is involved it can cost up to R20 000.

“Although shortening of horns is to secure the safety of these precious animals, it is still heartbreaking to see them in the wild without their horns.”

Rhino poaching has decreased by almost 53% in the first six months of 2020, with 166 animals being killed for their horns across the country since the beginning of the year.

During the first six months of 2019, 316 rhino had been poached in South Africa.

Minister of environment, forestry and fisheries Barbara Creecy said that after a decade of implementing various strategies, and campaigning against ever increasing rhino poaching by local poachers recruited and managed by crime syndicates, efforts were paying off.

Creecy said between the start of the lockdown on 27 March, until the end of June 2020, 46 rhinos were poached across the country.

“Of these, 14 rhinos were poached during April, 13 in May and 19 in June,” said Creecy.

Meanwhile, two sub-adults male cheetahs, that will be relocated from Welgevonden game reserve to Rietvlei for a period of six months, have been welcomed by Rietvlei nature lovers.

ALSO READ: Rietvlei rhino population dehorned

Recently, Rekord reported that four sub-adult cheetahs were to be relocated to Rietvlei, but well-known conservation biologist of the Endangered Wildlife Trust, Vincent van der Merwe said that only two would be released at Rietvlei.

“Originally we wanted to send four cheetahs to Rietvlei but then another national park desperately needed two females. The new plan is to send the males and to find two females who will join them at another stage,” he said.

Van der Merwe, said that it can take up to three days to find the location of the cheetah.

“The relocation process will most probably only take place at the end of August, as we are still awaiting transport permits. After arriving at Rietvlei, they will for the first month, be monitored closely.

“We move them into a Boma to make ensure that they adapt well to their new environment.

“Once we see that these animals are more familiar with the environment, we will release them into the reserve,” said Van der Merwe.

It is most likely that visitors will be able to capture images of the cheetah late September, once they have been released from the Boma into the wild.

Do you have more information about the story? Please send us an email to editorial@rekord.co.za or phone us on 083 625 4114.

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