At the meeting held on Saturday 3 June to find a way to protect Kenton’s remaining wildlife, one message came through clearly:
Prevention is more effective than apprehension and prosecution.
This is so for several reasons:
- In recent years poaching in the Eastern Cape has become more prolific and more sophisticated. Syndicates started operating in the area about 15 years ago, but there are now more hunting groups than ever. Their guns have mufflers and their packs of dogs are trained to hunt in silence. Methods are cruel with poachers beaming bright lights on the game to blind them while the dogs corner the game in nets. This gives poachers the untrammelled opportunity to slaughter the game, sometimes using knives
This information was provided by Walter Currie, a farmer who has successfully protected herds of oribi and other game on his farm at Kasouga over the last 15 years. The same information was confirmed by Hi Tec, which deals with complaints from other game farmers in the area.
- Although not easy, it may be possible to catch the poachers with their piles of dead animals and their packs of dogs, but, obtaining a conviction is almost impossible. There has to be evidence to link the poacher to the scene of the crime. Failure to do that enables poachers to go free. Bail is set at inappropriately low levels.
- Kenton’s remaining wildlife has become ever more vulnerable over these years as more and more plots are ‘developed’. Bush is cleared without regard for the need to provide corridors for the game to move in safety and under cover from one patch of bush to another. They are even more vulnerable to dogs, snares and poachers. It is imperative to ramp up efforts to protect them before they can be snared or attacked by dogs. Walter Currie insists very emphatically: “there is no such thing as a dog which will never hunt”. Even border collies that are trained to herd sheep can sometimes turn and start biting the sheep for no apparent reason. It is simply not possible to say that any particular dog will never become a hunter.
- Residents’ nightly patrols in Boknes have reduced the incidents of all crime to zero in the area last year, according to Thierry Boulanger and Anton Kok who organise the village’s patrol system. It involves one pair of volunteers in two one-hour patrols in the wee small hours once a month. Each pair carries a walkie-talkie connected to Hi Tec. They do not stop driving; they do not speak to anyone. They simply drive and report what they see on a card. The next morning they hand the card and the talkie to the next pair. While the incidents of crime have dropped to zero, the regular sightings of game have risen to even include Kudus.
- The random positioning of webcams, with frequent changes in that positioning, is another effective means to prevent and monitor poaching or predation. It provides information about the cause of predation, which can include caracul, eagles, and even domestic cats, which are known to catch baby rabbits, mongooses and other creatures.
Those who attended the meeting were invited to participate in wildlife protection along a range of levels from being listed as a ‘friend who cares’ through contributing/assisting when asked through to playing a leading role in organising activities and strategies. Twelve people including their partners/spouses filled in forms showing their interest at all these levels.
Those who would like to participate can still do so in two ways:
- Contact Glenda Webster on: Glenda@legalenglish.co.za
- Next time you have a restless night and cannot sleep, consider going for a moonlight drive around Kenton. Take a cell phone and preferably a partner. Just cruise around the wooded areas quietly without stopping. Enjoy the drive. If you see anything untoward, phone Hi Tec on 046 648 1032. In time, and with success, your moonlight drive may become a game drive in your very own back yard.
To find out more phone Glenda Webster on 046 648 3816 or 082 664 8471.
Thank you to Glenda Webster for the information