Giraffe suffers cruel death

Only the reproductive organs were removed.

STEELPOORT – A giraffe was castrated and mutilated while still alive on Berghoek Farm outside town on Monday morning.The owner of the farm, Arrie van Wyk, told Steelburger/Lydenburg News that he is fed up with removing snares daily and the ongoing poaching. “Almost every day my rangers have to remove snares on my property.”The most recent case was the brutal killing of a young giraffe bull. The carcass was discovered early Monday morning by field rangers. Van Wyk was immediately called to the scene. It is still unknown how the poachers managed to corner and isolate the bull from the herd and how they managed to pull him to the ground.It would seem that in the struggle his neck was broken in two places due to the fall, but not even this could kill him. Not being able to use his neck to get up, he lay there powerless. All the animal could do was to kick at the men in an attempt to save his life.This is evident in the gravel and sand misplaced by its feet. They eventually cut the tendons in his legs to stop him from kicking. Unable to move, the culprits started cutting out his reproductive organs. According to Van Wyk, the animal had black streaks across its face from its eyes. “It seems like he was crying while they were cutting him.”He added that they had caught poachers on the farm on numerous occasions. If the police did come out to the scene the poachers were set free the next day.There are 27 species of game on the farm. Where Van Wyk used to have 100 nyalas, he barely has 20 left. The poaching and snare collecting have become so bad that he was forced to hire 24-hour field guides to patrol the fences. “It’s time the public see the brutality and magnitude of the problem.”How can we go on if everything is just taken away from us? The public must realise that it is not only elephants and rhinos that are being targeted, but also other animals.”He said some nights he wakes up to the sound of gunshots and he knows that one of his animals are most likely being poached. “I feel powerless!”On Steelburger/Lydenburg News’ departure, the SAPS arrived to investigate. A case of poaching will be opened and an investigation will follow. Van Wyk suspected the case was muti-related.Despite the ongoing poaching, the farm also has Catha edulis trees, also known as Bushman’s tea, growing there. It is used to create the drug named Khat and several people trespass on the property to get to the trees. These trees are on the Red Data List.According to April Nukhble of the Mpumalanga Tourisms and Parks Agency, the trees are protected by the national forestry association. Zimzile Mcotywa, the chief of foresters, told the newspaper that people pick the leaves and sell them to Somalians for R500 per black bag. He could not say whether or not it is used in the process of making drugs, but confirmed that it is listed on the national narcotics list.According to a tree expert Dr Francoise du Rand, who hikes all over the world and studies plants as a passion, the tree is only a by-product forming the drug. He explained that the tree itself is not a drug, but with chemical processing and other ingredients, it can be formed into Khat. He added that you need a lot of the plant to get out even a small percentage of the drug.

Mariska Sadler

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