54 re­lo­cated rhino can­not be hunted

AL­LE­GA­TIONS: Hunters tagged an­i­mals

Weekend Witness - - News - IN­GRID OELLERMANN

AN un­der­tak­ing was given yes­ter­day that 54 white rhi­nos on the verge of be­ing re­lo­cated from Pon­gola’s Magudu game re­serve to Win­ter­shoek near Kim­ber­ley will not be hunted.

It is part of a con­sent or­der ob­tained at the high court amid al­le­ga­tions, and strong de­nials, that hunters had al­ready laid claim to some of the rhi­nos and were set to shoot them at Win­ter­shoek.

The al­le­ga­tions are con­tained in an ap­pli­ca­tion by Marthi­nus and Elsa Coet­zer who, among other things, are seek­ing the pro­vi­sional liq­ui­da­tion of Magudu Game Com­pany and wanted an in­ter­dict to stop the re­lo­ca­tion of the rhi­nos.

Win­ter­shoek owner Wi­aan van der Linde and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor and share­holder of Magudu, Hen­drik Gre­eff, said it was a “a bla­tant lie” the rhi­nos were tagged for hunt­ing and the pur­pose of mov­ing them is to safe­guard them from poach­ers.

Gre­eff said Magudu is one of the big­gest pri­vate own­ers of free-roam­ing white rhi­nos in South Africa and there is a need to pro­tect the pop­u­la­tion. Mov­ing the rhino would min­imise the risk of poach­ing while re­tain­ing own­er­ship.

Gre­eff said he warned the Coet­zers in May — when their ob­jec­tions de­layed the re­lo­ca­tion — that the risk of poach­ing in- creased once per­mits were ap­plied for to move such a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of rhi­nos from the re­serve.

“Well-in­formed and ex­pe­ri­enced sources” told him that “al­most with­out ex­cep­tion” poach­ing would fol­low soon af­ter­wards at the places iden­ti­fied in the per­mit ap­pli­ca­tions.

His “worst fears” were re­alised when a slain rhino was found on Au­gust 7.

“The blood of the slaugh­tered rhino is on the hands of the ap­pli­cants [the Coet­zers],” he said.

The cap­ture and re­lo­ca­tion is set to start on Mon­day.

In his af­fi­davit, Coet­zer said Gre­eff didn’t have the au­thor­ity to move the rhi­nos, and al­leged Gre­eff was in­tent on al­low­ing the rhi­nos to be hunted and to “ap­pro­pri­ate the pro­ceeds” for his own ben­e­fit.

Coet­zer said he’d es­tab­lished pro­fes­sional hunters had al­ready ar­ranged to hunt the rhi­nos, and was aware one had al­ready bought six male rhi­nos.

Van der Linde re­sponded that there was no in­ten­tion to hunt the rhi­nos.

“Hunt­ing of rhino bulls some­times oc­curs. This is, how­ever, con­trolled and only part of fi­nanc­ing the whole op­er­a­tion and in the in­ter­est of proper game man­age­ment,” he said.

The case has been post­poned to Au­gust 30.

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