In an effort to curb the scourge of rhino poaching, the Isimangaliso Wetland Park has dehorned its rhino population.
One hundred and thirty five rhino have been poached this year in KwaZulu-Natal alone. South Africa’s first heritage site is also staving off mining requests from several major conglomerates.
The eco-system and bio-diversity rich park says allowing mining will lower its Wetland status.
The big four park is home to thousands of bird species and wildlife. The area also offers long stretches of pristine beaches and the world’s second biggest vegetated sand dunes.
Its estuary is the biggest on the continent with many fish species including the near-extinct coelacanth also found here.
However, poaching is threatening the existence of the park’s main tourist attraction. Authorities have opted to dehorn all rhino populations to ensure they are protected.
“We are trying to save, for the sake of our future generations because the rate at which we were losing black and white rhinos was quite alarming,” says Sbusiso Bukhosini, CEO of Isimangaliso Wetland Park.
Tourists have welcomed the initiative that will safeguard the endangered species:
“It’s a bit sad to see those rhinos without the magnificent horns, especially the black rhinos but it’s very sensible because it takes away the temptations for the poachers.”
“I think that’s a very good thing because it will minimise the poaching and doesn’t harm the animal because it grows back.”
Continued pressure for mining requests is another concern for the park.
“People that are keen on mining have not stopped trying. But a lot of people are standing up for their reasons and beliefs that this place should be kept as a heritage site,” says spokesperson Thandi Shabalala.
The park has also initiated youth programmes to encourage participation in conservation.
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