Catherine Hughes, Manager, Threatened Grassland Species Programme
Even though it has traditional cultural roots, the hunting of animals without a permit and using domestic dogs remains illegal. Over recent years, there has also been a shift from hunting with dogs for subsistence purposes to hunting for sport. In this case, hunters place bets on the dogs’ hunting success, and many wildlife species are harmed or killed, as are livestock. There may also be damage to property and security threats to private landowners and communities.
The EWT’s Threatened Grassland Species Programme (TGSP) is concerned with the effects that this practice is having on our grassland species, including the Oribi (Ourebia ourebi), which is now Endangered in South Africa due to habitat loss and these illegal hunting activities. As has been shown by the annual Oribi census run by the Oribi Working Group and administered by the EWT, Oribi numbers have declined significantly in the last ten years.
In 2017, the EWT built on existing individual relationships with SACAN, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, the KZN Hunting, Shooting and Conservation Association (KZNHSCA) and Project Rhino KZN, and has now partnered more formally with these organisations to combat poaching of wildlife in KZN, with an emphasis on poaching with dogs. We plan to provide a coordinated response system for reporting incidents; responding to any threat posed by these activities and continued conservation action and research around these issues.
If an incident of poaching with dogs is witnessed anywhere, it should be logged with SACAN on 086 167 2226, who will coordinate the appropriate response from the relevant parties. The EWT has also developed an incident register for poaching with dogs, which we will use to identify trends to inform conservation action. The reporting template is available from the EWT, and any incidents of poaching with dogs should be reported to firstname.lastname@example.org. Any information is valued. Although these efforts are KZN-focused for now, we would like to combat poaching with dogs in all provinces experiencing this problem, so landowners and other stakeholders are encouraged to use the email address from other parts of South Africa too.
The collective team also coordinates various community outreach programmes in areas that are experiencing high levels of wildlife crime, and looks for opportunities to encourage alternative recreation and subsistence activities that do not target threatened wildlife.
Suitable training and presentations relating to community outreach, the legislation and procedures in terms of wildlife crime and anti-poaching prevention measures are available. For more information, please contact, Samson Phakathi, EWT Senior Field Officer, on 082 805 4806, or the above email address.
This work is made possible by NCT Forestry Co-operative Limited.