Target: South African National Director of Public Prosecutions Mxolisi Sandile Oliver Nxasana
Goal: Applaud South Africa’s efforts to curb poaching through harsh sentencing
South Africa is home to 70 percent of the world’s rhinoceros population and is the stage of a bloody war on poaching. In 2013, a record 1,004 rhinos were killed in South Africa, and as of July 2014, Kruger National Park alone has seen 370 deaths. Thankfully, the South African courts have found a likely deterrent in the form of severe sentencing for poachers.
Over the past few years, rhino poaching has increased despite heroic efforts by park rangers. The threatening trend is clear in a steady increase in deaths, from 333 in 2010 to 1,004 in 2013. The animals are killed for their horns, which some believe to have medicinal properties despite a complete lack of evidence to support such claims. In fact, the horns are made mostly of keratin, a protein found in fingernails.
In an effort to stem the heavy increase of poaching, South African courts have begun doling out some of the most severe sentencing to poachers. Mandla Chauke was arrested in Kruger National Park in 2011 after he and two companions shot three rhinos before engaging in a firefight with park rangers who shot and killed one of the poachers. In 2014, Chauke was sentenced to 77 years imprisonment for multiple offenses, including illegal hunting, murder, trespassing and illegal firearms possession. In 2012, a Thai national was sentenced to 40 years for selling the illegal horns, and in 2013 two Mozambicans received 16 years for killing a rhino and stealing its horn.
Much more needs to be done to protect rhinoceroses from poaching, but the efforts of the South African courts show true promise, warning poachers of the price they could pay for killing these threatened animals. Applaud the strict sentencing of rhino poachers.
Dear Mr. Nxasana,
South Africa has seen a steady increase in rhinoceros poaching in the past few years, with a record 1,004 killings in 2013 alone. Park rangers risk their lives to save these threatened creatures from poachers who are heavily armed and difficult to track. Keeping poachers out altogether is not a viable option due to inadequate funding and a colossal amount of land to cover. The only viable solution is to deter poachers from entering these national parks and refuges by making the punishment serious enough to negate the risk—which is exactly what South African courts aim to do.
I support the severe sentencing of rhinoceros poachers in South Africa and applaud the courts’ clear stance against these senseless killings.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: snowmentality via Flickr