AG Secret Season Safari

Timbavati Rhino Challenge


© Tim Jackson

Over the past couple of weeks the 57-year-old Timbavati Private Nature Reserve has fuelled the always volatile ‘hunting debate’ by deciding to conduct rhino hunts on its property. Former Africa Geographic editor Peter Borchert throws out a challenge.

Timbavati is part of the Associated Private Nature Reserves (APNR) that include concessions offering clients both wildlife viewing/photographic safaris and hunting safaris. The fences that once separated the properties on the APNR reserves and from the western boundary of the Kruger National Park have been long gone, allowing game including lions, cheetahs, rhinos and elephants to move without hinder through the greater region. I guess this raises the question of who actually owns the game, but that is another question.

Quickly, as things do, the Timbavati situation has once again brought the highly polarised rights and wrongs of trophy hunting to the fore. And, as such things also tend to foster, there is a great deal of self-righteous huffing and puffing from both sides.

The ‘pro’ faction claims the voice of reason, the high ground of ‘economic sustainability’, the ‘scientific proof’ that the selective hunting of a few carefully targeted individuals presents no threat to the species, the return on investment of hunting safaris versus photographic safaris, and the ‘inescapable fact’ that it is only through trade and the commoditisation of wildlife that conservation can be suitably funded and vulnerable species properly protected.

Aside from the ‘moral reprehensibility’ of trophy hunting, many in the ‘anti’ camp would argue with reasonable justification that the hunting fraternity and conservation officialdom in South Africa is rife with corruption and alive with opportunities for laundering trophies into the global illegal trade for products such and horn and ivory. There are more than enough specifics to bear this out and to support a contention that within an industry so infected with nefarious practice, the hunting of species such as rhino is just not on.

And so views, and often insults as well, are traded back and forth, sometimes with some good thoughts around compromise, but not very often.

Where do I stand? Well I do not like trophy hunting. In fact I believe that it is a wholly inappropriate activity for our time. And I just don’t get the psyche of people who regard it as ‘sport’ to kill a beautiful wild animal in order to display its horns, tusks or other attributes of size or rarity on a wall. But with that out of the way, I do recognise that hunting is big business with a very powerful lobby and that, in some extensive areas where land may be marginal in respect of operating photographic safaris, hunting – even trophy hunting – may well be the only reasonable revenue-earning opportunity for the landowner.


The chairperson of Timbavati, Tom Hancock, has set out in an open letter the view of the game reserve’s board and its justification for allowing hunting. I suggest that you read it.

Timbavati is a designated buffer zone of the Kruger National Park and as such trophy hunting is one of the activities permitted. But is legal entitlement always morally right? Instead of going down that rabbit hole I would like to offer a simple challenge based on economics and the management of business risk.

Some of South Africa’s best known safari lodges lie within Timbavati , all of which with great justification claim unbeatable close-up wildlife experiences in an area that opens uninterrupted into the vastness of the Kruger Park. How would the thousands of people who come from all over the world for these experiences react to the knowledge that hunting is also permitted in their piece of paradise?

Are these top lodges, indeed the whole APNR, up to the transparency of stating upfront and clearly on their websites, brochures and other marketing material, as well as explaining to guests, that they are part of an organisation that supports trophy hunting? Are they prepared for any backlash that might ensue? Are they sanguine about possibly compromising the millions of dollars of photographic-safari revenue derived from their very fine lodges for the several hundred thousands of revenue from a couple of trophy hunts?

And how would the million or so annual visitors to the Kruger Park react if they knew that the rhinos and other animals they have seen could theoretically move a few kilometres and end up in the sights of a hunter. After all the APNR and Kruger are all elements of the same uninterrupted ecosystem. Same rhinos, same ellies, same everything…

Just asking?

The commercial lodges within the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve have since responded to this post, this is what they had to say.

What are your thoughts on rhino hunting in the Timbavati? Let us know by taking this quick online survey.


© Tim Jackson

Cape Town-born Peter Borchert has a career in publishing spanning four decades. He has travelled widely in Africa and has written extensively about the continent.

  • Allison Thomson

    The hunting debate has once again reared its ugly head with the news that Timbavati will be holding 2 White Rhino hunts in the near future. As is common knowledge Timbavati is one of a few APNR’s (Association of Private Nature Reserves) that have removed their fences between themselves and the Kruger National Park which allows animals to move freely between Kruger and these hunting concessions and lodges. Most of these APNR’s offer Rhino hunting safaris.

    Recently an Avaaz petition was started by Paul Kruger Safaris to stop the hunting of White Rhino at Timbavati.

    Timbavati in response to released a statement that explained how Rhino hunting is part of South Africa’s “sustainable use” policy and conservation of the species.

    I would venture to say that the statement may come back to bite Timbavati in the proverbial as their statement is rather condescending about photographic tourism and the negative
    effects they perceive that type of tourism has on the ecosystem.

    What Mr Hancock fails to see is the broader picture which is the crux of the matter when it comes to Rhino hunting. The hunting industry in South Africa is undoubtedly a large income generator but it comes nowhere near competing with tourism and despite all their protestations the number of people employed in the industry is miniscule compared to tourism and very few of those employed in the industry benefit in a large scale from these hunting activities.

    In South Africa a professional hunter (aka PH) does not have to belong to any association and such there is little control over hunters who feel fit to ‘break the rules’ and the hunting industry has been very lax in the past to self regulate or take steps to ensure that registered hunters who do bend the rules are brought to book.

    Further, there is no annual limit to the number of permits that can be issued for White Rhino hunts and each province has the ability to issue as many permits as they deem fit despite there being a limit to the number of permits issued to an individual hunter. As we all know there are many corrupt officials working in conservation and this was made evident in the
    Chumlong Lemtongthai case last year where video footage clearly shows that the PH’s were the hunters and not the permit holders. Each of these hunts (and there were more than
    40 rhinos killed/hunted in this instance) a conservation officer was present and to my knowledge not a single one of them has yet been charged for the part that they played in these pseudo hunts.

    In late 2012 the TOPS regulations were changed to place stricter guidelines on the issuing of permits to Vietnamese hunters but they were already 2 steps ahead of this and had
    already started recruiting pseudo hunters from other countries.

    We are a long way away from getting control of the rhino poaching crisis and it is clear from what has happened in the past that there are very few ‘genuine’ Rhino trophy hunters and
    that the majority of hunts are mere smoke screens for gaining access to ‘legal’ horn which is being used to feed the black market and the growing demand in Asia for rhino horn.

    My proposal is this: Should the hunting fraternity insist that the purpose of the hunts is purely for conservation purposes and that their hunters are all legitimate hunters who are also as concerned about the survival of the species as we are, let’s then come to a compromise.

    Let’s agree to a quota on White Rhino hunts. At this moment in time we still do not have an up to date census on our population figures as the census that was promised in 2012 did not take place and the population census figures from 2010 have been scientifically projected to produce figures that some members of the conservation fraternity deem to be incorrect. This aside a population growth rate of 4% (after hunting, poaching mortalities etc) is in my mind a very low growth rate that needs to be increased by reducing hunting and poaching as much as possible.

    Secondly let’s all agree that the future existence of the Rhino is of common interest to all people (hunters, conservationists, scientists, citizens etc) and that this is the most
    important issue at hand.

    If the ‘genuine’ trophy hunters have the survival of the species close to their hearts then they will not be opposed to my next suggestion which is that all trophies exported from
    South Africa can only be exported with a replica horn. The “original horn” remains the property of the hunter and is micro chipped and DNA sampled as per TOPS regulations but is kept and stored in South Africa until such time as the poaching crisis has abated. This will ensure the rhino horn does not end up on the black market outside of South Africa and Rhino hunting will only attract genuine Big 5 hunters who have the same conservation values as we do.

    I have spoken to many hunters and they have all agreed that this is a viable solution and would support this initiative.

    Let us not forget that “Extinction is forever”

    Allison Thomson
    OSCAP (Outraged SA
    Citizens against Poaching)

    • MadalaNdlovu

      Unfortunately your proposal won’t reduce the Asian demand, and by not supplying the demand yet cutting off the supply, it would lead to more poaching. It’s a terribly bad solution, in my opinion.

      You either have to find a way of reducing the Asian demand, or supplying it legally.

      Also, this statement: “The hunting industry in South Africa is undoubtedly a large income generator but it comes nowhere near competing with tourism” is, as far as I know, not true.

    • Why don’t you post this as a reply to Timbavati on their facebook page?

  • Thank you, a thoughtful article. Particularly interesting on the question of lodge transparency in marketing. I wholly agree with your perspectives on hunting. I don’t get the sport in killing and while economic arguments are cited, I personally don’t believe hunting has a place in conservation. The idea of we must kill some to save some will never make sense to me.

  • Gillian

    My question is ‘Are there enough Rhino left in SA, for it to be viably hunted, for sustainable use?’ The poaching stats of last year (and it seems this year wont be any different) is devastating to say the least.

  • So everytime a rhino from Kruger wonders onto their property it can be shot???? (there are no fences between Kruger & Timbavati)

  • Perhaps it’s my simple mind but here I, and thousands of others, are trying to raise funds and build awareness to help stop the murder of our rhino (and other threatened wildlife) in South Africa and then … Timbavati are kicking us up the bum by killing them! Wrong on so many levels and in this age – truly unnecessary.

    • Stephen Palos

      Hi Mandi. I think that people who are passionately trying to help solve the rhino poaching problem is very laudable, but frankly it should not be necessary. The reason it is though, is bad policy both locally (the moratorium on trade internally) and internationally (CITES policies which are a cop-out & trade off without logic or care)
      What these policies have done is taken what is a renewable and viable resource (rhino horn) and given it an unprecedented value beyond cocaine. No money, resources or public will or pressure can fight against that. Make rhino horn as tradable as milk, and rhino will become as common as cows (The horn has been proven by John Hume to be sustainably harvested by shaving)

      • Simon Espley

        Oh that sounds great – pastures of rhinos that walk to the shaving shed every day. Yeah that’s a great solution for Africa’s wild animals.

      • Stephen Palos
        • Charlotte Keeling

          You’re right, I agree and I know for a fact that there are park owners in Africa who agree. Rhino’s can be de-horned very safely, and if the trade is legalised then the trade of Rhino horn will be taken out of the poachers control and placed into the control of the park owners. A park owner I met whilst on a fieldcourse to South Africa said that he wished the people behind the desks on their swivel chairs who only see a Rhino once in a blue moon would stop making the decisions and talk to the people who are actually affected by Rhino poaching, the park owners. And he said that if the trade was placed into the hands of the park owners, then the profits made from selling the horns (which wouldn’t be anywhere near as much if the trade was legalised) could be put back into the park, such as increasing security.
          Legalising the trade of Rhino horn is not a great solution for Africa’s wild animals, but I am sure plenty of people would rather see a Rhino with no horn than no Rhino at all because I believe it is a case of legalising the trade, or allowing the species to become extinct.

      • Fanie Roux

        It is fine to say we must trade Rhino horn legal on the open market. But who are we going to sell the horn legal to. The people that buy rhino horn at the moment is all in criminal activities, from rhino horn poaching and smuggeling up to human traficing and every crime in between. There is no legal traders anywhere in the world. It is the same as to say, we have a bunch of AK47 for sale but we can only sell this to bank robbers.

        • That exactly is the point, these people have been criminalized by the law, change the law, and it will not be a criminal activity…

    • So true! Maybe we should start hiring hitmen to kill all these hunters

    • Rhyan

      I raised a question re this debate. How much of our funding goes to protect Rhinos that are going to be killed by the highest paying killer…. poachers just kill they don’t pay permits, government taxes and the land owners. Stop huntting PERIOD. We should be after the Chinese who order Rhino horn, shark fin etc etc etc. the one who pays the poor african to do his dirty work.

      • Rhyan Rockingrolling Rudman : : Hunting pays more money into nature conservation projects than you are willing to admit. Once hunting is gone who will protect nature? Those who are anti hunting are usually city dwellers who have no clue as to the issues involved in wild life care.

        there are many large expenses which must be paid for. Below is a list of some of them… this list is not exhaustive and is totally incomplete as there are many more that are never discussed.

        1) fences and fence maintenance

        2) SECURITY

        3) staff salaries

        4) veterinary bills

        5) MEDICINAL PLANTS AND THEIR CULTIVATION IN NON SUITABLE LANDS due to fencing issues that prevent wildlife from accessing suitable lands for these medicinal plants to survive

        6) road maintenance

        7) land maintenance (soil erosion and storm damage)

        8) animal food security in times of adverse weather patterns (Drought)

        9) water supply and associated infrastructure development and maintenance

        When a farmer / land owner / game ranger allows hunting on his lands, the income generated helps an awful lot to cover some of these costs, but is no where near enough to cover all the costs. Thus there is game drives, nature based tourism and other tourism activities which further subsidize these costs. This tourism is usually associated with the hunted species and the hunting activities, so when hunting is removed from the picture, so is a big slice of this tourism.

        the true key is sustainable utalisation of the lands, which includes but is not limited to

        a) hunting,

        b) tourism,

        c) farming and

        d) related activities of harvesting of natural resources such as thatch, reeds, grasses and indigenous medicinal plants.

        Rhyan Rockingrolling Rudman your input would be appreciated

    • Patrick Frayne

      Mandi you are so right!

  • Tish

    Difficult always it will be split. I support Professional Hunting but it is hard to trust these days with so much Corruption. You can “get anything you want” with a price in Africa. Thats scary. The other problem? Its WRONG to huntRhino in the Kruger Consessions at the moment of course…Kruger have unbound support from the “PUBLIC” to help in the Fight to “Save the Rhino” … this hunt could destroy alot of that faith.

  • I hate it when I hear “We only hunt the old and sickly animals” :^( All Rhino are precious at this time, none should be hunted.

    • Jan

      so if an old bull has maybe one year left to live.. it should be allowed to die in the bush, in it’s sleep, of old age.. instead of being hunted for an exorbitant amount of money – money that would fund and outfit an anti-paching unit that would protect active breeding pairs and other, younger rhinos on that farm? yeah.. smart move! with clear thinking people like you we should have this whole rhino issue sorted in no time! eish… do some research. read a book. educate yourself. just make an effort!

      Conservation is the sustainable use of a natural resource!

      • Nigel Miller

        So who decides which animals only have “one year left to live” ? Is that an exact science ? What happens if there are no animals left in that age group, do you change your method to two years to live, three years ? Who makes the rules and where do you draw the line if making money is your sole objective ?

        • Jan

          I dont think you understand how hunting and game farming works, Nigel. But lets look at it purely from a business point of view. very simply put, the game farmer’s continued existence depends on him always having animals – that is his “product”, if you will – it is his JOB to manage their numbers effectively and generate a SUSTAINABLE income… that means not hunting when there are not sufficient numbers and selecting animals to be hunted when the need or opportunity arrises… and YES, this is a science – why dont you get one of the many textbooks available out there and do some reading? What do you think people do when they study conservation or game farm management at varsity? jees man, do you think people just walk around going “let shoot one today!”??

          why does a cattle farmer never run out of cattle, even tho he takes a bunch of them to be slaughtered every year? It is his business to manage it in a sustainable manner. Why does a game farm not run out of animals, even tho they allow hunting every year?

          What do you think the purpose of a gamefarm is, if not to make money? why does someone spend millions buying a farm and the animals if he isnt going to make money? how do you think a farm stays open if it isnt making money? its a business – one that you clearly know absolutely nothing about… and while I admire the fact that you want to protect the rhino, your uninformed opinions can do more harm than good. If you remove the farmers ability to make money and recoup some of his costs, you will force them to shut up shop.. and there goes the habitat of your precious rhinos – noone to farm them / breed them / protect them and no land for them to be on! thats the Rhino GONE!

          Rhino numbers have been steadily recovering from the brink of extinction, in no small part due to private game farms – and now you want to close them down?

          • Simon Espley

            I think Nigel understand very well Jan. I also think that you have not answered his questions.

          • Nigel Miller

            Jan, I can assure you I’m quite informed on this subject. What I will say is that increased rhino trophy hunting in South Africa between 2005 and 2008 was immediately followed by an exponential increase in poaching, and the rest is history. Records show the majority of the 330+ rhinos that were trophy hunted over this period were killed by asians for “medicinal purposes”. That’s no coincidence. The SA Hunters and Game Conservation Association even published a document on the subject in 2011 which stated that the subsequent financial loss from poaching far exceeded the revenue generated by the trophy hunts and conceded that (quote) “Hunting is, however, also used as a smoke screen to bypass the prohibition on the trade in rhino horn”, a statement which has subsequently been proven true by the likes of Marnus Steyl and his accomplices.

            If you create a demand for a product then you’d better be prepared to deal with the consequences, whether they are rewarding or not.

      • Have you seen what happens to elephants when there are no old bulls around?

        • Jan

          have you seen what happens to land where elephant numbers are not kept in check through culling?

      • So many people are willing to donate money to save the rhino without killing the rhino.

  • Wayne Bisset

    With the increase of the amount of rhino killed EACH day, and it is escalating, it is ludicrous to shoot even one rhino (legally) at this time. I would have thought this would be obvious, but I see by a comment from people that are actually activists, not hunters, this is not so. The effectiveness of all the private and government APU’s shows ZERO impact on the poaching problem in the past two years, therefore the lost of more animals this year than last is a given.

  • Stephen Palos

    As a kid in the 1970s whenever I travelled on a holiday with my folks through South Africa I remember the extreme excitement brought about by spotting even the simplest forms of wildlife. A hawk on a phone line, guinea fowl or meerkats were noteworthy and to spot a springbuck was sheer exuberance! Miles of farmland devoted to domestic stock or crops, with pesticides for ticks, worms & other bugs had wiped out almost everything.

    Since then a revolution in game farming has established a NATIONAL wildlife reserve almost un ending across the countryside and previously rare species hardly warrant a glance today. Most notably though, HUNTING sustains over three quarters of the required revenue for this, and game sales (which in the end is also hunting driven) another 18% or so….
    Ironically, the ONLY species still struggling to get their numbers high are THOSE MADE DIFFICULT TO HUNT BY VIRTUE OF OVER REGULATION! (Bontebok, Mountain Zebra, Rhino etc.) I don’t ask anyone to become a hunter or even to understand it. If you have been so removed from nature that you have lost that fundamental human trait, so be it. But I was born with two forward facing eyes, and a palate that prefers meat to grain. If our creator gradually moves our eyes to the side of our heads and starts to make grain & grass more palatable to us then I guess that’s a sign we are evolving away from being predators. In the meanwhile I will not question his intent in my design, and I will enjoy (and brag of) the benefits my passion brings to the greater wildlife revolution in SA.

  • Their motives are regardless, it still should not be done. If it is the Establishment’s only viable income, and is their ‘bread-winner’ so to speak, they should look into packing up and getting a real job. I do want to pose the question – are Rhino not officially an endangered species? Because the last time I checked, it is illegal (and completely immoral) to hunt endangered species? Im confused (and disgusted) here. Comments?

    • Tim

      According to Wikipedia, they are listed by the IUCN as Non-Threatened….bearing in mind their numbers are in actual fact still growing in South Africa, Kruger and the Timbavati

  • Simon Espley

    I don’t get it. Timbavati is a very respected organisation with a long and proud history in wildlife management. And now they fall on their sword. Do they not realise how sensitive this issue is and that throwing arrogantly worded scientific justification is just not going to wash with the public? I suspect that the price for this will be paid by the lodges operating in this awesome reserve. Pity, because the lodges deserve all the support they can get.

  • It beggars belief to suppose that trophy hunting can even be considered to be in the best interests of conservation. I for one will be boycotting South African safaris all together, recommending the same for others.

    • Jan

      it beggars belief that people can be so strongly apposed to something without doing even the smallest bit of research about it first. I will be recommending to people that they dont form a strong opinion about something they clearly know nothing about.

    • Charlotte Keeling

      There are many game reserves who have to cull animals such as hoofstock each year in order to keep the number of animals in the park just below carrying capacity. If a species of animal in the park went over the carrying capacity then the entire population of that animal could crash because the resources of the park simply aren’t great enough to sustain the population. If a number of animals have to be killed each year, then trophy hunting is generally permitted in order to gain extra income for the park which can be put back into park maintenance against poachers etc. The trophy hunting of Rhino’s or any endangered animal however whether through shooting or darting, is not at all necessary and should be illegal as their species are already suffering at the hands of poachers and killing more of them is not going to help their population levels.

  • don’t pixel the face of those bastards, let the world see their damn faces. Wish I could hunt them.. What’s wrong with the government of SA not putting a stop to this crime? There I am donating to save the rhino and elephants while other bastards make money out of their deaths.

  • Patrick Frayne

    It is just wrong and no amount of justification can make killing these beautiful animals right!!

  • Warren

    Poaching doesn’t inject cash back into the conservation system, fact is it siphons off valuable assets. The protagonists will argue for hunting but against poaching, which unchecked is unsustainable. Whereas controlled and legitimate hunting is sustainable and financially beneficial for all. For the record: I am so torn by this debate, I dislike the act of trophy hunting and yet I am an angler.. Does this make me a hypocrite?

    • Brett

      If you catch and release Warren then your answer is no … how does one shoot & release is the big ?

  • Patty Weston

    Killing is killing no matter how you justify it. At the end of the day, the rhino are still at risk of becoming extinct. I wonder tho, why did Timbavati take their fence down and in doing so, why then hasn’t Kruger put their own fence up. It seems to me, that their is more emphasis on monetary value. than on conservation and saving the species. What a shame.

  • Tom Hancock

    In response to the Timbavati rhino hunting debate, WWF South Africa stated the following (Saturday Star, 23 Feb 2013):

    “An understated threat to the growth of rhino
    populations is the availability of suitable and safe habitat. When existing
    populations grow to carrying capacity, their breeding rates slow down.

    Thus the private sector in South Africa has provided
    much additional land for our rhino populations to grow on, while simultaneously
    stimulating growth in the donor populations and generating vital funds for
    state conservation authorities.

    Of the almost 19,000 white rhino in South Africa today
    (up from barely 50 in the early 1900’s), about a quarter are in private
    ownership. A significant portion of these would not have been there had private landowners not had the possibility
    of deriving income from trophy hunting, or sale of live animals to others who
    allow trophy hunting.

    WWF South Africa remains serious concerned about the
    high rate of illegal killing currently impacting on our rhino and appreciated
    the need for substantial investment in security by the state and private
    conservation bodies for their protection.

    As a science-based conservation organisation, we
    acknowledge the important role that trophy hunting can play in generating funds
    to not only support conservation, but also to benefit local communities.

    For these reasons, WWF South Africa is not opposed to
    trophy hunting of individual animals identified by a scientific process and
    conducted under strict recognised protocols.”

    Makes you think?

    Tom Hancock
    Chairman-Timbavati Private Nature Reserve

    • MadalaNdlovu

      Well that’s surprising news. So WWF does in fact have some intelligence. Why is this statement so at odds with the usual tone of the messages that they put out on facebook, ie, ban all trade?

    • Wayne Bisset

      Have you read “Killing for Profit” ? Makes one look at WWF in a TOTALLY different light!

    • Nigel Miller

      I’m not sure why you’re surprised at the WWF’s response, they were founded by a group of trophy hunters, including Sir Peter Scott, Sir Julian Huxley and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. Other notable international presidents of the organisation over the years include King Juan Carlos of Spain, Prince Philip of the UK and his son Prince Charles, NRA president CR Gutermuth, the famous diplomat Francis Kellogg, the list goes on. Google their names and the words “trophy hunter” and you will find they were all avid sports hunters whilst masquerading as ambassadors for the WWF. So this statement is nothing new, the WWF have long been a two-faced organisation in this respect.

    • Simon Espley

      Yes, Tom, your post does make me think. So here’s my thinking: If your experts identify a rhino via your scientific process as being prime for hunting and then, before your client gets to shoot that rhino, some poacher with a family to feed kills that same rhino – what then? Is that poaching activity all well and fine – bearing in mind your justification that the individual rhino was ripe for the kill? Remember that you don’t own the rhino so there is no theft here. Is the poacher guilty of cruelty, bearing in mind that they are by many accounts more efficient killers than hunt clients? Ignoring the possible trespassing claim you may have against that poacher, what else would you do? Would you find another rhino that also qualifies? I am curious to know.

      • Tim

        As Tom mentioned in the initial press release, Timbavati has one of the best anti-poaching records, and have only lost 2 rhinos to poaching…not bad and no body seems to be giving them credit for that?

  • Mark

    How much money goes into the pockets of this so call game reserves . There is nothing about killing Rhino that is right . It is a money grab from superrich ,it is not doing anything for Africa or Africans .

  • Robert Durrant

    It is a foul and loathesome thing to kill a rare, magnificent, and magical species like this. To do so for twisted pleasure and to allow it for profit is repulsive, uncivilised, and contemptible. Those who think they ‘own’ the animals are holding them in trust for the rest of the world and for future generations. If they permit such activities on ‘their’ land, then their land should be confiscated from them without compensation. This is never, never, never acceptable. And the ‘trophy photograph’ of morons gloating over their cowardly act of destruction is nauseating.

  • Peter.. I agree with all points mentioned in this article, but this is a threatened species, almost to the point of extinction. People are risking and losing their lives to save them. Under no circustance should we allow one more rhino to perish off this earth. All of us are to blame for this disaster but by no means should anyone profit from it.

  • Tom Hancock



    28 FEBRUARY 2013

    Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen,

    Cabinet met yesterday to discuss interventions to
    combat rhino poaching, and recommendations emanating from the national consultation process to facilitate a common understanding of key issues
    concerning the protection and sustainable conservation of the South African
    rhino population.

    Cabinet also provided the South African delegation
    with a mandate for negotiations taking place during the upcoming CITES COP in

    The Convention on International Trade in Endangered
    Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) aims to ensure that international trade in listed species of wild animals and
    plants does not threaten their survival in the wild. The Conference of Parties
    meets every three years to consider amendments to the Appendices; to make
    recommendations to improve the effectiveness of the Convention; and to assess
    the implementation of the Convention. More than 70 proposals to amend the
    Appendices will be considered at the 16th meeting of the Conference
    of Parties and more than 70 working documents relating to strategic matters,
    implementation and enforcement matters will be discussed. South Africa’s position will be
    informed by, and based on, sustainable use principles with the long term
    conservation of species as the overall objective. Proposals that will ensure
    responsible utilization and conservation of the species concerned will be
    supported by South Africa

    Important proposals to be considered by the CoP
    include, among other proposals to list certain shark species in the Appendices
    of the Convention (Oceanic whitetip shark, Hammerhead sharks and Porbeagle
    shark); a proposal by
    Kenya to place a zero export quota on the export of hunting trophies from South
    Africa and Swaziland, that will be opposed by both South Africa and Swaziland;
    and a proposed amendment to the annotation to the African elephant listing to
    place restrictions on the submission of proposals to trade in ivory by African
    elephant range States. Since all these proposals will be subject
    to negotiations during the CoP, South Africa’s positions relating to these
    cannot be made available at this point in time.

    South Africa will host and participate in side events
    during the CoP and three of these events will focus on rhino matters, i.e.
    rhino conservation, rhino safety and security and rhino economics or trade
    matters. This mirror the key thematic areas addressed during the national
    consultation process or Rhino Issues management (RIM) process. South Africa will also
    participate in the CITES and Livelihoods side event that will reflect on the
    role international trade plays in terms of livelihoods of communities and the
    challenges and opportunities that it presents.

    With regard to the national consultation process
    relating to rhino conservation, I presented the key recommendations emanating
    from the report to Cabinet. The final report was submitted to the Department in
    January 2013 and a preliminary assessment has been done relating to the
    feasibility to implement these recommendations. The Cabinet was provided with an overview of the four thematic areas
    that emerged during the RIM process: funding, rhino conservation, safety and
    security, and commerce (trade). Members of Cabinet were also
    provided with a preliminary assessment of the feasibility to implement the
    recommendations, and further actions required to implement these.

    With regards to Funding; the recommendation to develop
    and implement a funding model for the conservation of the South African rhino
    population is supported. The establishment of a National Rhino Fund will be discussed by the
    Department of Environmental Affairs and the National Treasury with the focus on
    the mechanisms of establishing such a fund. This will be accompanied by a
    nationally coordinated fund raising strategy.

    At the core of the challenges facing South
    Africa in terms of rhino are safety and security aspects. The implementation of
    proposed interventions will assist in comprehensively addressing these. The
    National Strategy for the Safety and Security of Rhinoceros Populations in
    South Africa will be reviewed to address emerging issues; the number and
    capability of field rangers will be improved; the involvement of community
    members living adjacent to protected areas will be promoted; and the use of new
    technologies are being explored and piloted. The feasibility of dehorning all
    black rhino and key white rhino populations is however questioned, due to
    various challenges and concerns relating to costs, risks to the rhino,
    potential biological and social impact, logistics to undertake an extensive
    dehorning exercise, and considering that the horn grows back, the impact
    (financial and biological) of repeat dehorning. The dehorning study
    commissioned by the Department of Environmental Affairs found that dehorning is
    only a deterrent and only a viable option for small populations where other
    security interventions are in place.

    In terms of securing the long term conservation of
    rhinos, the implementation of the Biodiversity Management Plan (BMP) for black
    rhino published in the government gazette on 25 January 2013 and the
    development of the draft framework for the biodiversity management plan for
    white rhino will play a crucial role. These plans include long term conservation objectives,
    with range expansion as an integral part of the long term conservation strategy
    for rhino.

    recommendations in the RIM report relating to the commercial farming of rhino
    will be discussed in more detail with Members of the Executive Council
    responsible for the conservation of biodiversity in the respective provinces,
    due to the broader and complex implications relating to the commercial farming
    of rhino, including concerns relating to genetic management and impact on range

    With regard to
    the recommendations relating to proposed international trade; as stated before,
    this can only be done if the current international prohibitions are removed
    through agreement of CITES Parties, a potential trade partner has been
    identified and discussions have been initiated to determine the viability,
    especially considering that consumer states have trade prohibitions in place
    that will have to be repealed.

    The discussions to be initiated at COP16 will provide
    South Africa with more information relating to the views of CITES Parties;
    specific concerns that South Africa will have to address, and information that
    will be required for Parties to make a decision relating tothe question of
    international rhino horn trade. . Based on this information, South Africa will
    be able to make an informed decisions relating to this importance matter and
    prepare appropriately.

    All efforts to protect the country’s rhino population
    are not just aimed at protecting a species from extinction, but also securing
    and conserving all South Africa’s natural resources. The fact that the criminal
    syndicates involved in rhino poaching also undertake other crimes means that
    this current situation can be considered a national security risk. It is
    therefore imperative that the national response be comprehensive as it
    threatens not only the sustainable development path of the country but also the
    heritage of future generations.

    By this week 128 rhino had been poached in South
    Africa since the beginning of the year. The Kruger National Park
    continues to be the hardest hit, having lost 92 rhino in the past two months.
    Twelve rhino have been poached in North West, 12 in KwaZulu-Natal and eight in Limpopo.

    Of the 46 people arrested in connection with rhino
    poaching this year, three were couriers. A total of 24 alleged poachers
    have been arrested in the Kruger National Park, nine in Limpopo, eight in North
    West and one each in Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal.

    We also note with interest that among the measures
    introduced to combat this ongoing scourge of rhino poaching has been the elevation of rhino poaching to a
    priority crime by the National Joint Operations Centre (NATJOINTS), which is
    coordinated by the Directorate of Priority Crimes Investigations.

    The SANDF has deployed soldiers in the Kruger National
    Park to assist with border security, and additional rangers have been trained
    in anti-poaching methods in the Park. The soldiers presently patrolling the
    Kruger National Park will be obtaining more powers to be of greater assistance
    in anti-poaching efforts. SANParks has also received additional funding
    from the National Treasury to increase security in the Kruger National Park.

    Cabinet also noted that the North West, Limpopo and
    KZN provinces are significantly affected by the killing of rhinos

    emphasized the need to invest in technology (unmanned equipment) whilst
    increasing the ground coverage and area integrity by personnel.

    The amendments to the Norms and Standards for the
    marking of rhino and rhino horn are being successfully implemented, and Cabinet
    emphasized the need to implement a centralised permitting system for the
    hunting of rhino to ensure stricter controls and the elimination of abuse of
    the permitting system by alleged crime syndicates.

    Greater cooperation is being sought from communities
    living adjacent to protected areas housing rhino, with field rangers being
    employed from some of the impoverished villages. It is hoped that through
    interaction with communities, intelligence that could contribute to the arrest
    and conviction of alleged poachers, couriers and syndicate bosses would result.
    It is through collaboration with stakeholders that sustainable conservation of
    the rhino population in South Africa will succeed.

    We have continued bilateral engagements with neighbouring states,
    including Mozambique, as well as identified consumer states. This
    recently resulted in the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding with the
    Socialist Republic of Vietnam to increase collaboration on biodiversity and
    conservation matters. During the CITES 16th Conference of Parties in
    Thailand from March 3 to 14, the Minister will engage with China, Thailand, the
    European Union, the United States and Southern African representatives on the
    issues of rhino conservation, rhino economics or international trade in rhino
    horn and possible legislative interventions.

  • $21407472

    If an animal is endangered, what is the difference between poaching and shooting by paying a fee?

  • Maurice Taylor

    Why does he hide his face ? Cant believe he has a feeling of satisfaction-judging by the look on his face-killing an animal for what ? Pity we don’t have a war on our borders at present-be a good place to send him-coward. Maurice Taylor

  • If these rhinos are from Kruger then don’t they technically belong to ALL South Africans? The land might privately owned but I don’t think that the animals are!!!

  • Graham McGill

    On line survey done but also want to add the following. What happens if an rhino is wounded and heads back into K.N.P. Innocent Tourists at risk. Who’s responsibility is it then? Zambia have just stopped hunting as they say the revenue Tourism brings in far outweighs that of a few Trophy hunters. Ian Khama in Botswana has also stopped all hunting concessions. I also agree on the transparency issue. I think Timbavati would not be happy to advertise hunting in their brochures and risk the loss of many other regular paying guests.

  • MadalaNdlovu

    As far as I know, the millions of people you mention who visit Kruger contribute less money than the handful of hunters. The last stat I heard was that hunting accounts for 56% of tourism revenue.

    That was a few years ago though, and the figure could well be higher by now – rich hunters tend to be more dependable in terms of numbers than middle-income sightseers, who simply won’t go on holiday if their country’s economy is doing badly, or will go to a cheaper destination – like Greece, Spain or Thailand.

    So while I agree with you that trophy hunters’ motives (and more often than not, their ethics) are despicable, they’re an indispensable evil.

    And I don’t think that what happens in a private game reserve is going to affect the reputation of Kruger.

    There’s something else about rhinos that I rarely see mentioned. Their number is apparently increasing at 7% per annum. That’s around 1400 rhinos being born per year, which far exceeds the number being lost to poachers. This talk about rhinos becoming extinct is nonsense, and the media frenzy about poaching is counter-productive – it gives rise to widespread calls for a total ban on trade, which is the death-knell of the rhino. The people who support those calls contribute no money to conservation. Their intentions may be good, but they see wildlife in cartoon terms, as cute creatures. The road to hell is paved with good intentions – I wish they’d stop it. I wish the CITES ban would be lifted.

  • Lisa S

    This statement… “hunting – even trophy hunting – may well be the only reasonable revenue-earning opportunity for the landowner.”… really bothers me. There are limited rhinos so once they are even more sparse, the land owner could lose income. If that same landowner opened his land for photographic safaris, there could be a longer period of income. Maybe I’m being to simplistic in my reasoning, I don’t know. One thing I am glad about, I did not book this lodge for my upcoming SA trip, this place was a highly recommended and I chose another lodge.

  • Mark Needham

    Question – given that APNR are also involved in Sabi Sand, do they allow hunting there too?

    • Tim

      no, there are enough lodges to cover their conservation costs

  • Tom Hancock

    It appears some of you don’t like the WWF. Possibly a case of playing the man, not the ball…

    The following additional organisation support well managed, scientifically controlled and monitored, sustainable utilisation by way of harvesting, and specifically understand and accept the benefits of white rhino hunting, as an essential tool in southern African conservation – Endangerd Wildlife Trust, Wilderness Foundation, IUCN, CITES, African Rhino Specialist Group, SANParks, Department of Environment, Dr Ian Player. I could name a further 20 organisation involved on the conservation of lions who have the same opinion on hunting of lions.
    These are all science-based organisations looking at the conservation of the species as a whole, rather than looking at saving individual specimens of the species. Look at the science, the logic, the research. Put your emotions and sensitivities aside. If the acceptable and understandable emotive response to the rhino poaching onslaught leads to the cessation of legal, sustainable hunting, the effects on suitable rhino habitat and consequently the number of rhino, will be devastating.
    Tom Hancock
    Chairman – timbavati Private Nature Reserve

    • Simon Espley

      Tom, perhaps you could address Peter Borchert’s questions? How will the Timbavati lodges survive without guests?

  • Dex

    Tom Hancock makes a statement on Timbavati website: “it takes approximately 18,000 guest nights in lodges (or one guest staying for 50 years) to generate the same revenue that the Timbavati Association receives from one hunter shooting one rhino” Does this mean Timbavati charges about R35 per person per night?? What a joke, how can one rhino hunted equate to 18 000 bednights!! or one guest staying for 50 years. If those are their rates, can I buy a package for ten people for 50 years please!

    • Tim

      I am also not quite sure on how that figure was calculated either, and do want to question it…BUT, the Timbavati does not see the money generated from each bed night sold…instead, tourists pay a R160pp conservation levy on entering the reserve, and if we assume that a guest stay from only two nights, it would take 1120 bed nights to cover the income generated from the rhino hunt…

  • Frank Spiniello

    I like the picture of the rhino at the top , how ca i get hold of Tim jackson would like to use it on

  • Jill Mckie

    Boycott all reserves that allow any hunting

  • Message for Don Hancock of Timbavati: Don – I can see that you don’t care that I and others don’t like the fact that Timbavati hunts rhino while they are under enormous poaching pressure. I travel from UK to Africa twice a year – there are many game reserve and lodge options. Why would I support Timbavati game reserve when you obviously don’t care about my feelings on this matter?

  • Mary Reid

    Rhino are on the endangered species list. Those who are sanctioning permission to hunt them are committing a grave error and contributuing to the extinction of the species for short term monetry gain. The damage to tourism will be far greater in the long run it this this species is terminated. I cannot understand how this practice can be allowed.

    • Tim

      rhinos are listed as “near-threatened”, not endangered, according to the IUCN


    for any one who actually cares about the Rhinos read the link and stop being so losed mind with your comments regarding sustainable utilisation, if you do not take the time to read it then you are not a true conservationist,

  • Brian

    A friend has just returned from a week in the Kruger Park. During a discussion with a Ranger in the Park, it was stated that the effect of poaching is seriously understated. Flying over the Park by helicopter gives a far truer impression, “the Park is littered with carcasses”, from North to South. The effect of this is that the animals will migrate to where they feel the safest, this will be areas like Timbavati and Sabi Sands, where there are Rangers and Trackers on the ground traversing their concession areas daily. To now introduce hunting to these areas will give the animals no where to go.

  • Ingrid Raikes

    This is disgraceful and totally unacceptable! I AM DISGUSTED! When all the trees are chopped down, when all wildlife destroyed, and when all rivers are stagnant with pollution and refuse: ONLY THEN WILL HUMANS, THE MOST IN-HUMANE, REALISE THAT YOU CAN’T EAT MONEY!

  • Zoe Mulholland

    We have to ask ourselves the real question – what behavior and twisted sickness are we enabling to happen. The thrill that trophy hunters must feel when they snuff out a majestic rhino, lion or elephant can only be likened to the adrenalin and pleasure a pedophile or rapist must experience; they have conquered the vulnerable and let’s face it, many of those scum save ‘trophies’ from their conquests! I was fortunate enough to visit the Timbavati over New Years and had some of the best sightings I’ve ever seen. To think that the family of rhino I saw peacefully grazing could be shattered and torn apart due to someone’s disgusting need to kill makes my blood boil. PLEASE, those that are the judge and jury, you are in positions to protect these animals, not offer them up to the highest bidder in the name of conservation! Do the right thing. BTW, if trophy hunting is OK, why are the faces blurred out in the pic above?

  • Marilyn

    Does nothing excite these hunters in life any more, that they have to resort to killing these wonderful creatures? What will be next?

  • Bossmustangace

    It seems to me that if the majority of people detest the possibility of the “Kruger” animals being (legally) killed by hunters, they should put a barrier up so the animals can’t wander into unsafe hunting areas. Likewise, it you protest hunting in areas like Timbavati and Letaba, stop going there. If those areas can’t make it financially, they’ll change their ways. But if they prevail despite the boycott, and hunting is remains legal, then those against hunting would have nothing more to do but to try to change the laws governing hunting.

  • Hello Mr. McKee

    Albinos men destroys mother nature because mother nature is naturally destroying albinos.

Okavango Walking Chiefs Island
Climbing Mount Nyiragongo
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