Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Management Issues

Wed Oct 17, 2012 4:12 pm

The Witness: Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife on its knees

The Mercury: Ezemvelo under renewed scrutiny

DA KZN: Portfolio Committee must scrutinize KZN Ezemvelo's grasp of its core mandate

:shock: Annual budget of over R500m from the provincial government for incompetent management ???

Re: Call for Ezemvelo KZN wildlife to become self-funded

Wed Oct 17, 2012 6:44 pm

Can you put up the relevant quotes for us lazy people, Dear!? O0 0/0

Re: Call for Ezemvelo KZN wildlife to become self-funded

Wed Oct 17, 2012 10:03 pm

:twisted:

Re: Rhino Poaching

Sat Oct 20, 2012 5:47 pm

PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE MUST SCRUTINIZE KZN EZEMVELO’S GRASP OF ITS CORE MANDATE
Posted by admin on Friday, September 28, 2012 •

The Democratic Alliance in KwaZulu-Natal has called for an urgent meeting of the province’s conservation portfolio committee, to include senior officials from KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife, in a bid to scrutinize the conservation body’s grasp of its core mandate.

Contrary to what Ezemvelo officials appear to believe, hospitality is not the wildlife body’s core function. Its mandate is to protect conservation within our province.

It is confusion within this key area that has led to Ezemvelo’s funding woes – to the extent that there is currently no direct budget allocated for the fight against rhino poaching in this province. This situation represents an urgent need for the separation of tasks within the conservation body.

Ezemvelo continues to tout its hospitality arm as a cash cow. The reality is that, rather than being income generators, the camps are loss leaders. Despite staff cuts, salary bills continue to grow, meanwhile occupancy rates remain low and facilities and infrastructure are largely neglected. This is indicative of a malaise amongst staff, led by a clearly incompetent and self-serving management. Ezemvelo has proved itself inept when it comes to this aspect of the business and it is time that this was acknowledged, with the running of facilities put out to private tender or a public/private partnership entered into.

The focus must return to the protection of our natural heritage. This requires buy-in, not only from Ezemvelo but also from government and private sector decision-makers who must make adequate funding available and ensure that it is spent wisely.

The DA will continue to advocate these changes in a bid to save our valuable legacy.

Radley Keys, MPP

Re: Rhino Poaching

Sat Oct 20, 2012 5:48 pm

The Witness

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife on its knees
04 Oct 2012
Jeremy Ridl


It is not the first time that a parliamentary committee of the province has demanded of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife that it should “stand on its own feet” or become financially self-sufficient. It was reported in a Durban newpaper last week that the Kzn parliamentary committee on finance had called for Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife to become self-funded. As Dr Ian Player points out, there is no precedent for this nonsensical move. Indeed, when the Mpumalanga Parks Board was ordered to find its own funding some years ago, it had disastrous consequences for nature conservation in that province.
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife is a conservation agency whose primary function is the protection of the biodiversity resources of the province. Burdening it with the obligation to be hospitality and tourism operators to justify its existence is plain stupid. There are obvious contradictions in the functions of a nature conservation agency and a tourism operator. Conflicts of interest are inevitable and this is not good for conservation.
By its own admission, Ezemvelo has a serious skills shortage, many of its most competent officers having been drummed out of the organisation over the last few years. It has become so bad that the “old guard” that once drove the organisation have been recalled. What are the financial implications of this for Ezemvelo? What of the employees whose poor performance made it necessary to bring in the missing skills – have they been retained?
The chances of the organisation mounting a successful financial turnaround strategy, structured as it is and propped up by outside help, seems highly improbable.
The natural resources of the province are critical to its social and economic prosperity. The protection of biodiversity is essential to the security of these resources and should be in the hands of a properly funded and competent agency with the sole mandate and function to do perform this funcition. To suggest that nature conservation management has to make a profit is as absurd as asking the department of social welfare to make a profit out of the management of its orphanages.
The parliamentary portfolio committees of the province are forever roasting Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and its board for its poor corporate governance and chronic financial mismanagement. Have they ever bothered to investigate the real reasons for the failure of Ezemvelo to properly discharge its statutory mandate? What have they done to stop the rot?
On 4th September 2012, the High Court in Pietermaritzburg ruled that the current Ezemvelo board was not validly appointed. Although the declaration of the invalidity of the appointment of the board was suspended for six months to enable the MEC to get his house in order, the effect of the ruling of the judge was to confirm that Ezemvelo has been operating without a properly constituted board since about 2003. This means in effect that Ezemvelo has been operating illegally for nearly ten years. What has the KZN Committee on finance had to say about this? Nothing!
What of the legal costs running into several million rand that MEC must pay, all because successive MEC’s allowed themselves to be led by the nose by officials who were promoting their own agenda without reference to their board, deficient as it may have been? Deafening silence!
Without a validly appointed or constituted board, Ezemvelo officials have been accountable to nobody. They are a law unto themselves and have directed the organisation away from its statutory mandate and its core function. The fact that only about 30% of its budget is spent on conservation activities says it all. It is no wonder that rhino poachers have the upper hand in KwaZulu-Natal.
Corruption is rife, standards are dropping, staff morale is low and a once world class conservation agency is in ruins. The R500 million rand question is whether it can or should be rescued. The KZN parliamentary committee on finance seems to think not. They want to see Ezemvelo become self-funded. This is surely a death sentence.
Ezemvelo has lost its focus. Instead of concentrating on its core function it has made itself extremely unpopular in just about every sector of society in which it operates, and in some cases, has no business to be:
• Environmental consultants complain that officials are arrogant and obstructive in environmental impact assessment processes. Officials throw their weight around and then hold up the process by refusing to adhere to the statutory timeframes applicable for responses. To make matters worse, Ezemvelo officials after having participated in the process, have a say in the decision of the environmental authority.
• Property developers complain that interventions by Ezemvelo officials in planning matters, in which they have no statutory mandate, have cost them tens of millions of rand in losses because of the delays they have caused.
• Game capture operators accuse Ezemvelo of unfair completion because Ezemvelo is able to manipulate the issue of permits and divert contracts to itself.
• Obtaining permits tor the keeping of wild animals in captivity for any purpose became almost impossible until the judge put a stop to this on 4th September 2012. Despite the order of court, conditions included in recently issued permits and threats made to aviculturists suggest that not even the order of a judge carries weight with Ezemvelo officials.
•The once extensive library at Ezemvelo’s headquarters at Queen Elizabeth Park has been virtually emptied through theft and a lack of basic controls.
• Because of the inefficiency of the central reservations office, empty space in the game reserves is unused.
The conservation of the province is not in safe hands. Instead of treating the symptoms, the KZN parliamentary committees on finance and nature conservation should look to the root cause of the problems in Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. Its board has been dysfunctional for years, aside from the fact that it has operated unlawfully.
The MEC has the opportunity during the six months reprieve given to him by the court to sweep the organisation clean. Apart from appointing a new board, the MEC must look to those who have led the organisation over the last few years. It is time for a clean-out in this department too.
The idea that the conservation of the province is best served by placing it in the hands of an “independent” board is good in theory. That is if the board is indeed independent, that it has on it people with the requisite competence and interest in conservation, and that it will be lawfully appointed. Most importantly, the new board must have the strength of character to control its officials so that the new Ezemvelo does not become the rogue organisation that it has been for the last decade.
If the parliamentary committees really want to grasp the nettle, they must start with an investigation in to why the Animal Interest Alliance took the MEC and Ezemvelo to court in the first place and how in the face of certain defeat from the outset, the very Ezemvelo officials who provoked the litigation, were able to persuade the MEC to continue with a case that has ended up costing him millions.
It is time for those that have brought Ezemvelo to its knees to be held accountable for this.
Jeremy Ridl is an attorney and environmental law specialist. He writes on behalf of the Animal Interest Alliance. •

Jeremy Ridl

Re: Rhino Poaching

Sat Oct 20, 2012 5:49 pm

The Mercury
Ezemvelo under renewed scrutiny
October 1 2012 at 04:31pm
By Tony Carnie
________________________________________

INLSA
Staff from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife struggle to prevent a heavily sedated black rhino bull from charging spectators.
The provincial government had no plans to cut off state funding for Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, but the conservation agency would need to start raising substantially more revenue, finance portfolio committee chair Belinda Scott said at the weekend.
Elaborating on comments she made at a committee meeting in Pietermaritzburg last week, Scott told The Mercury that her committee did not expect Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife to be “completely self-sustaining. But they will have to generate more revenue”.
Noting that Ezemvelo received an annual subsidy of about R500 million, Scott said she was not convinced the conservation agency was doing enough to market the province’s conservation assets effectively.
“What we are saying is that we want to ensure that we get value for money, and that Ezemvelo has to use the current funding more wisely.
“This does not mean that the province does not care about conservation, and obviously Ezemvelo will still require huge government subsidies in future.”
However, Scott said she was concerned that Ezemvelo’s personnel costs were increasing while the number of staff had decreased.
“Part of the reason for this is that they are giving salary increases of 8 percent. These massive increases are no longer sustainable and we are going to have to negotiate with the trade unions and say: ‘There is only so much money’.
“When we asked Ezemvelo about their marketing component I did not get a clear answer, so one of the things we have asked for is a strategic plan. We will also be asking for more details on their full staff complement and whether these people are properly placed.”
Another concern was that while national parks in other provinces received central government funding through SA National Parks, most funding for conservation in KZN came from provincial government budget allocations.
The DA, meanwhile, has called for an urgent meeting of the province’s conservation portfolio committee “to scrutinise the conservation body’s grasp of its core mandate”.
“Contrary to what Ezemvelo officials appear to believe, hospitality is not the wildlife body’s core function. Its mandate is to protect conservation within our province,” said Radley Keys, the DA provincial spokesman on conservation.
“It is confusion within this key area that has led to Ezemvelo’s funding woes – to the extent that there is currently no direct budget allocated for the fight against rhino poaching in this province,” Keys said.
“This situation represents an urgent need for the separation of tasks in the… body.
“Ezemvelo continues to tout its hospitality arm as a cash cow. The reality is that, rather than being income generators, the camps are loss leaders. Despite staff cuts, salary bills continue to grow. Meanwhile, occupancy rates remain low and facilities and infrastructure are largely neglected.
“This is indicative of a malaise among staff, led by a clearly incompetent and self-serving management.
“Ezemvelo has proved itself inept when it comes to this aspect of the business. It is time this was acknowledged, with the running of facilities [being] put out to tender or a public-private partnership entered into.”
Ezemvelo chief executive Bandile Mkhize and Ezemvelo board chairman Comfort Ngidi did not respond to requests for comment.

Re: Call for Ezemvelo KZN wildlife to become self-funded

Sat Oct 20, 2012 8:50 pm

Tip-offs lead to rise in rhino poaching

Tip-offs lead to rise in rhino poaching

October 19 2012 at 11:22am
By Colleen Dardagan

Durban - Information leaks and shoddy protection of rhinos by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife staff were mainly to blame for this year’s alarming increase in poaching inside provincial parks, it emerged in an internal report released by Ezemvelo on Thursday.

Staff working in rhino protection areas could be subjected to continuous criminal and background checks, which may include the use of lie detector tests if necessary. They will also sign a declaration of secrecy.

The report said that more than 40 rhino deaths in Ezemvelo parks since January could be attributed to information being “leaked” by staff which allowed poachers to operate with impunity.

“Timeous and accurate information surrounding the deployment and tactics of law enforcement staff leaked out of the park enables the suspects to identify gaps, such as the timing of law enforcement coverage... they exploit these to penetrate the reserve, poach the rhinos, remove the horns and escape without being detected,” the report said.

The chief executive officer of Ezemvelo, Bandile Mkhize, who was in the Hluhluwe Game Reserve on Thursday to launch a community rhino protection programme, said the internal report had established involvement in poaching syndicates and negligence by some staff in carrying out their duties according to Ezemvelo’s Rhino Security Intervention Plan.

He said the use of a Bantam light aircraft during recent poaching incidents was also confirmed.

Mkhize said the deaths of nine rhinos in provincial parks last month called for “unprecedented” measures to curb any further killing.

The report recommends criminal record checks for all staff and the possible use of polygraph testing.

Radio and communication facilities should be improved with the introduction of a separate channel for security personnel.

Conservation managers and section rangers will now be required to participate in regular patrols and the intensity of clandestine, extended patrols will be upped.

Numbers of community members working on the alien invasive plant programmes in the parks will be scaled down and they will be transferred out of the parks.

Mkhize said using specialised units of the SANDF, as in the Kruger National Park, was being discussed.

He said the installation of surveillance cameras on the Corridor Road was also on the cards.

The road was used by poachers in the most recent incident.

“This equipment must be implemented to reduce the options available to poachers entering and leaving undetected via the Corridor Road.”

Lapses within the rhino protection ranks will not be tolerated, according to Mkhize, who promised that a second Rhino Security Assessment would be carried out at the end of this month.

colleen.dardagan@inl.co.za

The Mercury

Re: Ezemvelo KZN wildlife management incompetent?

Sat Oct 20, 2012 9:30 pm

19 Okt 2012
The Witness
JONATHAN ERASMUS • zulunews2@ feveronline. co. za

Lie tests for Ezemvelo staff to fight rhino poaching

EZEMVELO KZN Wildlife staff are to undergo polygraph tests from next week as the wildlife body intensifies its fight against rhino poaching.
CEO Dr Bandile Mkhize said there was a growing need to “vet” all their staff of nearly 4 000 people to know who can be “trusted”.
This year, 54 rhinos have been poached in KZN, 40 of them in Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife parks.
Rhino horns fetch up to R500 000 per kilogram. One horn weighs on average between five and six kilograms.
“Currently, it is difficult to know who you can trust as there is such large amounts of money involved. We want to weed out the rotten apples. We are talking about organised crime here,” said Mkhize.
His comments emanate from the findings in an internal report that recommended a number of radical changes to just how the provincial wildlife body takes on the fight against rhino poaching.
Released in a media statement, the report stated there was a need for more “clandestine” patrols; criminal background checks of staff; all critical staff to be required to sign a declaration of secrecy in future; contract work within the park be scaled down; the implementation of improved communication equipment, including a secure radio channel for all security personnel; expansion of aerial patrols, electronic vehicle monitoring, and the deployment of specialised units belonging to the SANDF into “rhino areas”.
Speaking to The Witness while attending the graduation ceremony of the Community Rhino Ambassador Project in the iMfolozi- Hluhluwe Game Reserve yesterday, Mkhize said the organisation suspended a section ranger and member of the anti- rhino poaching unit, both from Hluhluwe section of the park, last week.
The members, he said, are believed to have “lapsed” during the weekend of September 22 in which eight white rhinos were found dead and dehorned.
The Rhino Ambassador programme is a community outreach initiative that will see 100 “ambassadors” deployed into the local communities to do environmental awareness programmes.
He said what was making the programme even more difficult was obtaining the buy- in from end user countries such as Vietnam, whose law enforcement agencies claim to have “bigger problems”.
“We are, through national government, hoping to obtain a memorandum of understanding with the destination countries, but we have to tread carefully. For instance, China will not enter discussions if we state the horn has no medicinal purposes despite scientific evidence that points to the contrary.”
EKZNW still believes if it is allowed to regulate the sale of horns, it could significantly reduce the poaching. The organisation has a seven- ton stockpile in the valuable commodity.



19 Okt 2012
The Mercury
Colleen Dardagan colleen.dardagan@inl.co.za

Ezemvelo plans to plug the info leak


I NFORMATION leaks and shoddy protection of rhinos by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife staff were mainly to blame for this year’s alarming increase in poaching inside provincial parks, it emerged in an internal report released by Ezemvelo yesterday.
Staff working in rhino protection areas could be subjected to continuous criminal and background checks, which may include the use of lie detector tests if necessary. They will also sign a declaration of secrecy.
The report said that more than 40 rhino deaths in Ezemvelo parks since January could be attributed to information being “leaked” by staff which allowed poachers to operate with impunity.
“Timeous and accurate information surrounding the deployment and tactics of law enforcement staff leaked out of the park enables the suspects to identify gaps, such as the timing of law enforcement coverage... they exploit these to penetrate the reserve, poach the rhinos, remove the horns and escape without being detected,” the report said.
The chief executive officer of Ezemvelo, Bandile Mkhize, who was in the Hluhluwe Game Reserve yesterday to launch a community rhino protection programme, said the internal report had established involvement in poaching syndicates and negligence by some staff in carrying out their duties according to Ezemvelo’s Rhino Security Intervention Plan.
He said the use of a Bantam light aircraft during recent poaching incidents was also confirmed.
Mkhize said the deaths of nine rhinos in provincial parks last month called for “unprecedented” measures to curb any further killing.
The report recommends criminal record checks for all staff and the possible use of polygraph testing.
Radio and communication facilities should be improved with the introduction of a separate channel for security personnel.
Escape
Conservation managers and section rangers will now be required to participate in regular patrols and the intensity of clandestine, extended patrols will be upped.
Numbers of community members working on the alien invasive plant programmes in the parks will be scaled down and they will be transferred out of the parks.
Mkhize said using specialised units of the SANDF, as in the Kruger National Park, was being discussed.
He said the installation of surveillance cameras on the Corridor Road was also on the cards.
The road was used by poachers in the most recent incident.
“This equipment must be implemented to reduce the options available to poachers entering and leaving undetected via the Corridor Road.”
Lapses within the rhino protection ranks will not be tolerated, according to Mkhize, who promised that a second Rhino Security Assessment would be carried out at the end of this month.



From Pressdisplay

Re: Ezemvelo KZN wildlife management incompetent?

Mon Oct 22, 2012 6:32 pm

Thanks, Toko and Lis! O0

This is scary stuff indeed, and a dire warning and precursor for SanParks and Kruger...all of it! :evil:


“Contrary to what Ezemvelo officials appear to believe, hospitality is not the wildlife body’s core function. Its mandate is to protect conservation within our province,” said Radley Keys, the DA provincial spokesman on conservation.
“It is confusion within this key area that has led to Ezemvelo’s funding woes – to the extent that there is currently no direct budget allocated for the fight against rhino poaching in this province,” Keys said.
“This situation represents an urgent need for the separation of tasks in the… body.
“Ezemvelo continues to tout its hospitality arm as a cash cow. The reality is that, rather than being income generators, the camps are loss leaders. Despite staff cuts, salary bills continue to grow. Meanwhile, occupancy rates remain low and facilities and infrastructure are largely neglected.
“This is indicative of a malaise among staff, led by a clearly incompetent and self-serving management.
“Ezemvelo has proved itself inept when it comes to this aspect of the business. It is time this was acknowledged, with the running of facilities [being] put out to tender or a public-private partnership entered into.”

Re: Ezemvelo KZN wildlife management incompetent?

Wed Oct 24, 2012 5:26 pm

The debate about PPPs and concessions has just begun :-?

KZN Conservation Symposium: Opportunities for generating income and extending the wildlife estate