An animal dying of poison suffers a horrifying death. Arteries and veins rupture, blood becomes slush, organs send distress signals in the form of intense flashes of pain, nausea rises like a tide… it is a death many times worse than being struck by a heavy, hurtling bullet; or a crossbow bolt as was the case with Cecil the Lion.
Over the Easter weekend three captive predators from Mollshoop in the Brits district were callously killed by the foul method of poisoning them. Workers found a white tiger in the morning, curled up in rictus, dead after ingesting chicken meat laced with "Temic," which has become a generic name for a variety of poisons used on animals. Two lions were missing. The farmer called on the community watch which activated Mr. Chris Degenaar and his formidable Bushman trackers.
Mr. Degenaar had been a member of the renowned 101 Battalion's reaction force during the Border War. There he got to know the uncanny skills of Bushman trackers. When the farmers in the district were looking for a solution to a stock theft wave, Degenaar turned to his erstwhile comrades, the Bushmen. He had a few of them relocate to act as trackers. Their success rate has since been nothing short of formidable and stock theft fell by almost 70% over the last year.
These trackers took no time at all to find the carcasses of the two stolen lions in the veld. Their heads and paws had been removed, a sure sign that this heinous act was committed to service the muti market. They followed the tracks to a shack in the nearby township. The residents, reported to be two Mozambique citizens, had already decamped, but CPF members found a blood-stained glove and a few hairs easily recognized as coming from a lion.
According to Mr. Degenaar there has been a noticeable uptick in poaching cases since the USFWS' ban on the importation of captive-bred lion trophies to the USA. The lion hunting industry has severely contracted over the last eighteen months.
The muti market has always been adequately supplied by the hunting industry which had fully utilized lion carcasses. This source has now seriously been depleted, which created the opportunity for poachers to fill the void. Since the ban has come into effect, there has been a regular chain of poaching incidents which littered many a farm with the mutilated remains of large predators like lions and tigers. While they are at it, the poachers take opportunity when it presents itself to even poach crocodiles.
Dr. Walter Palmer, the dentist who'd shot and killed Cecil, was almost hounded out of his practice by infuriated protestors. It is remarkable that no protestors, animal rights advocacy groups, green-tinged filmmakers or environmentalists ever demonstrate when poachers are caught. It seems that in their eyes only well-to-do hunters can commit crimes against animals.
As the captive-bred lion industry further shrinks, we can expect the muti and other traditional medicine markets to be flooded by predator parts. This source, however, isn’t infinite in volume and soon poachers will find it easier to shop for lion organs in the national parks. For all its ferocity the lion is one of the easier animals to poach. They are not stealthy and are voracious carnivores. A chunk of poisoned meat is all it takes.
The world mourned the passing of Cecil. Who will shed a tear for the deaths of his cousins?