Man Convicted of Poaching in Camdeboo National Park
A man arrested for poaching in the Camdeboo National Park in Graaff-Reinet has been sentenced to 120 days in jail, suspended for four years.
Christopher Abrahams (19) of 11 Zinnia Street, Asherville, Graaff-Reinet pleaded guilty to hunting in a national park with the use of dogs and/or snares, being in possession of the meat from a kudu carcass and entering a national park without a permit. He was arrested by Camdeboo National Park rangers in March this year.
Magistrate M.N. Mgenge handed out the sentence on Friday the 7th of September after finding Abrahams guilty on four charges. The sentence is suspended on condition that Abrahams is not found guilty of a similar offence.
Abrahams has previous convictions of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm in 2005 and housebreaking with intent to steal in 2006.
At the trial, Park Manager, Peter Burdett, described to the court the extent of the poaching problem, while the prosecutor, Mr. S. Baartman, described the negative impact of the accused on the local tourist economy of Graaff-Reinet.
“Poaching is a significant threat to the future sustainability of the Camdeboo National Park”, said Park Manager, Peter Burdett. “A single poacher can do an enormous amount of damage by setting a snare-line of thirty to forty snares.”
Burdett said that animals trapped by this method usually die of exhaustion, thirst or strangulation.
Between October 2006 and July 2007, the Park recorded thirty incidents of snaring involving 214 snares. Sixteen large game animals including red hartebeest, Cape mountain zebra, ostriches and kudu were killed by snares within this period.
Of particular concern is the impact of snaring on the Cape mountain zebra population in the Eastern Section of the Park. This species, listed as ‘endangered’ in the Red Data Book, is threatened with possible extinction and special conservation measures have to be implemented in order to ensure their survival.
Cape mountain zebra were introduced into the Camdeboo National Park in 1984, with the population growing at a steady rate to reach 143 animals by 2002. During the latter part of this period an unknown number of animals were lost to snares set by poachers in the park.
There are now estimated to be only 80 Cape mountain zebra left in the park. This decline is largely the result of poaching, particularly with snares set for kudu. The mountain zebra seem to be especially prone to these snares.
“We hope that the sentence handed down on this poacher will discourage this illegal hunting and trade that affects both the conservation of biodiversity and the tourism value of the region”, said Burdett.
South African National Parks (SANParks) is targeting the problem through significant investment in a number of initiatives, including an increase in staff numbers, training and the supply of staff with the latest equipment including R1 semi-automatic rifles.
Additional strategic initiatives include a recently launched R6.5 million poverty relief program which may employ up to 200 historically disadvantaged local people.
Working with the local community and environmental education programmes are another important focus area. The Kids-in-Parks program sponsored by the Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism and Pick ‘n Pay provided 325 local school children with the opportunity take part in a three-day programme in the Park.
“It is anticipated that initiatives of this nature will lead to a decline in illegal activity within the park in the years to come”, said Burdett.
Issued by: Megan Bradfield
Regional Communications Manager
South African National Parks
Tel: 083 6508649
Enquiries: Peter Burdett
Camdeboo National Park
South African National Parks
Tel: 049 892 3453