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

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL 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.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid