News / Africa

Rhinos Threatened by SAF Ranger Strike

Park rangers protest for better pay outside Kruger National Park, February 6, 2012.
Park rangers protest for better pay outside Kruger National Park, February 6, 2012.
Ivan Broadhead

Last year, more than 448 rhinos were killed by poachers in South Africa. Around 240 of those were in Kruger National Park, South Africa's largest wildlife reserve. On Monday, staff at the park, including wildlife rangers, began a first full week of strikes in protest over their pay. With so many rangers off duty, there is concern that Kruger's dwindling rhino population is now more vulnerable to poachers than ever.

Kruger Park lies on South Africa's border with Mozambique. Extending over 19,000 square kilometers, it is home to 8,000 white rhino and 300 endangered black rhino.

Last Friday, around half of the park's 400 wildlife rangers - the guardians of Kruger's flora and fauna - began a strike over pay and terms offered by their employer, the government-run South African National Parks service (SANParks).  

William Mabasa, SANParks' head of communications, says the dispute derives from staff demands for more equality in pay scales. He says negotiations are now deadlocked.  

"We have no solution to the problem," said Mabasa.  "Their notice says they are not going to come back to work until their demands are met. Well, we will not be able to meet a demand like that... Are you going to take a guy who has been working here for 20 years and pay him exactly the same as a guy working here for 12 months?"

While industrial action is not unusual in South Africa, the rangers point out that this strike means the world's largest population of rhino is no longer guarded by those best trained to protect the rare animals.

Up to five rhino a week are typically poached in Kruger, a number that has risen rapidly in the last few years. However, Mabasa insists that effective contingency plans are in place. Soldiers and police officers are now being deployed in the bush, and no rhino have been killed since the strike began.

"We would not have wished to have our rangers on strike. We are in the middle of a big fight with poachers in the bush. We are not going to win the war without them.  We need them back," added Mabasa.

Horn from rhino killed by poachers in South Africa is sold for up to $20,000 a kilo by crime syndicates in China and Vietnam. But, protesting at Kruger's Phalaborwa gate, rangers like Olva Sanderson say they struggle to make ends meet on a salary of around $400 a month.

"I have four children," said Sanderson.  "I need Kruger National Park to increase my salary, because I am earning 'peanuts.'"

Her colleague, Rasba Khosa, points out that their job is a dangerous one.

"The poachers are there to fight," said Khosa.  "If they see you first, they are going to shoot you. These people must give us money so we can protect the rhinos - you are not going to protect animals if they don't give you enough salary."

The strikers say they will not give up their action until their pay demands are met, and they expect more staff in other national parks to join the action.

Their determination seems clear. Less certain is the effect the standoff between SANParks and its rangers will have on the nation's already vulnerable rhino population.

You May Like

Kurdish Party Pushes Political Gamble to Run in Turkey Poll

HDP announces it will run as political party instead of fielding independent candidates in June election, but faces tough 10 percent threshold More

Twitter Targets Islamic State

New research shows suspending Twitter accounts of Islamic State, its supporters has been effective; group, its backers are facing 'significant pressure,' says terrorism expert More

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

Majur Juac made the leap from being a refugee in Africa to a master chess champion in US, where he shares his expertise with students More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Spacei
X
Rosanne Skirble
January 27, 2015 5:05 PM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.
Video

Video Weekly Protests in Korea Keep Japanese WWII Atrocities Alive

Every week in Seoul protesters gather in front of the Japanese Embassy to demand an apology and reparations from Tokyo for the thousands of South Korean women who were forced into prostitution during World War II. Although this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, these protestors have helped keep the issue of comfort women alive and made it difficult for Japan to move beyond its past wartime atrocities. VOA's Brian Padden reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Exercise: New Prescription for Parkinsons Disease

Exercise could be the new prescription for Parkinson's Disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. More than six million people worldwide suffer from Parkinsons and they're traditionally treated with medication and surgery. Shelley Schlender has more.
Video

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Greece’s youngest-ever prime minister, 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, was sworn in Monday after his victorious far-left Syriza party entered a coalition with far right rivals. Tsipras says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts. So begins a new chapter for the country at the epicenter of Europe’s economic crisis - a change that has sent tremors across the continent, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Oil Price Drop Troubles Texas Producers

As oil prices have fallen over the past several months, drilling operations have slowed in some parts of the United States - including Texas, the state that surpasses all others in energy production. The Lone Star State’s energy output has been boosted in recent years by development of resources trapped deep below ground in the Eagle Ford shale deposit, which stretches across south central Texas. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Karnes City, Texas, the drop in oil prices has created concerns,
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid