This is essential reading if you want to truly understand the rhino issue and contribute meaningfully to the ongoing debates.
It reads like a serial murder investigation and yet this is a blow-by-blow account of the underworld of illegal rhino poaching and horn trading, extracted during years of often life-threatening investigative journalism.
Make no mistake, there are some harsh realities we all need to face up to, and these are explained extremely well in this book. Sometimes I had to put the book down (well, iPad actually) and pace the garden before continuing. This goes way beyond the rhino issue, to the massive illegal international wildlife trafficking industry, which ranks up there with drugs and weapons for profits, corruption and blind savagery.
Alleged rhino horn syndicate ‘mastermind’ Dawie Groenewald on his farm near Musina, South Africa. Photo © Julian Rademeyer.
A young Thai woman – one of many allegedly recruited by the Xaysavang syndicate – poses with a rhino carcass. Chumlong Lemtongthai employed prostitutes to pose as legal rhino hunters in order to obtain rhino horn trophies to sell in East Asia.
Thai national Chumlong Lemtongthai poses for his web cam at his home in Thailand. Chumlong Lemtongthai was jailed for 40 years by a court in South Africa for organising illegal rhino poaching expeditions.
Chumlong Lemtongthai and a North West environmental services department official.
Punpitak Chunchom, Lemongthai’s accomplice, poses with a with a haul of rhino horns.
Punpitak Chunchom and hunting outfitter Juan Pace with a pile of money that is believed to have been payment for the first rhinos that the Xaysavang syndicate shot.
I have played my part in numerous social media debates about rhino poaching and observe how people with similar concerns often end up battering away at each other as if they are mortal enemies. Perhaps this is because the debates are driven mainly by frustrated emotion as we all flounder around with low levels of true understanding.
‘Killing for Profit’ helped me make sense of it all. I now understand the context – why our precious rhino (and elephant, lions, pangolins etc) are being massacred in massive numbers. It’s ugly and it’s huge, but at least now I can see where this all comes from. Now what we need is the will and commitment to take on these massive forces and corrupt governments, to use citizen power to truly stop this massacre.
Start on your journey by reading the book.
I read ‘Killing for Profit’ on my iPad via the Kindle app.
Find out more here: http://killingforprofit.com/the-book/buy-it/
All photographs not with a copyright symbol were supplied to Africa Geographic by Julian Rademeyer.