7 December 2015
GPS News was priviledged to be invited by the British High Commission to cover the visit of Prince Harry of Wales to the Kruger National Park (KNP) and the South African Wildlife College on December 2 and 3. His visit to these two locations was to highlight the bravery of the wildlife rangers of the anti poaching unit in their efforts to save rhino’s from poachers. The 31 year old Prince’s visit was part of a Royal Tour which included engagements in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Prince Harry landed at Skukuza airport just after 16:00 on Tuesday, December 4 to visit the Mission Area Joint Operations Centre (MAJOC). He was met by Maj Gen (ret) Johan Jooste (head of anti-poaching operations SANParks), Fundisile Mtekeni (CEO SANParks) and Glenn Phillips (Managing Executive). Jooste and Otch Otto briefed Prince Harry on the strategies implemented by the anti poaching unit in dealing with poachers in the KNP. “The poachers are an evolving threat as they constantly adapt their methods as well as how and where they enter the Park,” said Jooste. The presentation also illustrated the enormous scope and challenge faced by the rangers in dealing with well armed poachers who kill rhinos purely for financial gain.
Thereafter Prince Harry was introduced to Killer the dog and his ranger handler. Killer is one of several dogs utilised by the anti poaching unit in successfully tracking poachers. Killer recently made history when his “testimony” was included as evidence in court and ultimately secured the conviction of a poacher.
On Wednesday morning December 3, Prince Harry was taken per helicopter to a crime scene in the Nwanetsi area where a mother rhino and her calf were shot and killed. The Prince was joined by Major General Johan Jooste who is in charge of KNP’s anti-poaching team and Frik Rossouw, a Senior Environmental Investigator. Prince Harry was moved by the scene and commented; “This belongs to South Africa and it’s been stolen by other people.”
Prince Harry was then taken to see a field demonstration by the rangers. The day ended with Prince Harry giving a speech to the rangers at the South African Wildlife Training Centre. “There is no pretending that any of this will be easy,” stated the Prince. “It won’t be. But when we win this battle and reverse the rise in poaching, the victory will belong first and foremost to those on the frontiers. In recent years Kruger has also become a major killing field. The numbers of rhinos poached in South Africa has grown by nearly 500% in just five years, with most of these occurring in Kruger. Already this year 1,500 rhinos have been killed in this country. That is four every day.”
To view further photo’s of Prince Harry go to http://gpsnews.co.za/?p=15332 or Galleries Photos.
Photo: Prince Harry with Killer, the dog who is a member of the anti poaching unit. (Pool/Michelly Rall)
Gallery Photo’s: Laura Mukwevho (Kruger National Park).