South Africa is known around the world for its breathtaking wildlife. The country is home to an astounding number of mammal species. But some, like elephants and lions, face a serious threat from poachers. Animal parts are being sold for high profits on black markets, particularly in Asia. Protecting the wildlife from poachers is a top priority in a private game park in South Africa.
This private South African game park is home to hundreds of mammals. This area, part of the larger Kruger National Park region, is also a hotbed for animal poachers. They kill elephants for their ivory tusks and lions for their bones. The poachers are also targeting rhinos for their horns.
Park Ranger C.J. Lombard has seen the devastating impact of rhino poaching.
“You find a female that’s been hacked apart and the calf next to a dead mother, knowing that the calf has been staying there for weeks with its mom – refusing to leave the mom and dying of starvation. It really does make you very angry,” said Lombard.
The South African government says more than a thousand rhinos were killed by poachers in 2013, the highest number on record. Already in January more than 37 rhinos have been slain.
In Asian countries rhino horn, which is believed to have some medicinal value, can sell for about $60,000 per kilo.
Lombard and his tracker Patrick Moyane guide tourists through the game park. They’re also part of frontline efforts to stop poaching within this 11,000 hectare private park.