Words: Kirsty Coetzee Images: Supplied
Although statistics of rhino poaching have almost halved during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, Magic Hills Private Game Reserve has not slowed its efforts in protecting its wildlife and rhino population.
The 20 100-hectare reserve is a home and refuge to elephants, rhinos, cheetahs and lions, as well as around 50 other species, many of which are endangered. If anything, activities around caring for these critically endangered animals have accelerated during this time.
With the international borders now open and the end-user value of rhino horn having possibly risen due to the long-term gap in availability, Magic Hills general manager Declan Hofmeyr describes the time as a “quiet before the storm”.
“A surge is expected. Just like the rest of South Africa, the syndicates and shooters were locked down by the pandemic, but they still have orders to fill and we were already seeing persons of interest moving between provinces at Level 2 of lockdown. As international travel now begins to reopen, it will likely go back to the pre-COVID-19 threat level,” he says.