From the Zululand Observer Tuesday, 17 April 2012 Ndumo poaching suspect shot dead by rangers STORY: Rachelle Breed A suspected rhino poacher died in a shoot-out with wildlife rangers at Ndumo Game Reserve on the KZN northern border with Mozambique. The Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife anti-poaching unit tracked three suspected poachers following covert information about a rhino hunt planned for last Tuesday night. The confrontation started when the men allegedly fired at the unit with rifles. The rangers exchanged fire, wounding one. He died before an ambulance could arrive. Two suspects managed to escape. Last week the Magudu Court heard from Warrant Officer JP Roux of Durban Organised Crime that heavily armed poachers often fire on game rangers. He was testifying in the bail application of two farmers and two game rangers, the so-called Magudu Four, an alleged poaching syndicate. Rhino poachers are often well armed and shoot-outs have occurred when field rangers have confronted armed poachers. Conservation rangers are therefore risking their lives protecting rhino. He also said the community feared coming forth with information. Extinction threat We are fast approaching the stage where extinction of all rhino in the world is a distinct possibility. The financial impact of rhino poaching on the game industry is serious. h Te costs of employing guards and erecting extra security measures are astronomical and many farmers have sold their rhino as a result, Roux said. Rhino owners are starting to consider it a liability. This could result in reduced demand for live rhino and a corresponding drop in prices. None of the Black or White rhino up for auction were sold at the 13 August 2010 Vleisscentraal Game Auction at Alldays, yet other game species sold. Economic backlash Roux said an estimated 20 000 White Rhino remain in SA. The decline in average sale value reflects a drop in asset value of the country's White Rhino of R1.5-billion. The asset value of the country's remaining White Rhino has effectively been reduced by just over R300 000 per rhino poached over the period 2008-2010 (494 up to 5 December 2010). The reduced demand and prices for rhino will have significant negative consequences for conservation agencies, the private sector and communities raising revenues from rhino sales. Concerns have also been expressed about the costs and human risk of holding legal horn stocks in the private sector. Not cheap Successful rhino conservation is not cheap. There has been a significant investment in rhino protection, monitoring and management, said Roux. The high costs are carried by tax payers and citizens. By way of contrast many of the benefits of illegal trade accrue to citizens outside the country. ç³Žildlife trade research and monitoring group TRAFFIC revealed most of the big illegal profits accrued to couriers, officials, wholesalers and retailers based in consuming countries.