Poachers turn to social media to locate rhinos, elephants and lions

APRIL 16, 2015

According to the Mirror in the UK, poachers are now using ­Facebook, Twitter and ­Instagram to track down and kill endangered rhinos, elephants and lions. The killer gangs are specifically scouring social media sites for tourists on safaris whose photos unwittingly pinpoint the ­whereabouts of rare animals.

Because of geo-tagging features on smartphones, poachers can work out from the images the co-ordinates of animals sought for their ivory, teeth or fur. The poaching gangs reportedly then use helicopters to immediately head to the area for a quick kill.

The paper said British ­visitors to Africa have now been urged to take care when posting pictures on social media. One tourist who has recently visited the Kruger National Park reportedly said: “We were specifically asked to ensure we did not give away the animals’ precise location if we posted photographs online.”

William Mabasa, spokesman for the Kruger National Park, told the Mirror that: “Tourists should not do anything that will help the poachers. They must be really careful with what they put on social media.

“They must not give away the location of endangered animals like rhino and elephant.”

Poaching has increased in recent years due to the booming market in the Far East where rhino horn is prized for its supposed medicinal properties.

Last year more than 1,020 rhino were slaughtered for in South Africa – 700 in the Kruger National Park.

South African National Parks spokesman Marc Reading told the Mirror that: “It is concerning. Unidentified choppers have been finding animals very quickly and we think it’s down to this (social media).”

 

Image: Early this year, in a rhion poaching incident at Mount Camdeboo Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape, a mother and her 2 ½ year old sub-adult calf were butchered, and the mother’s full-term (unborn) calf also died.

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