4 October 2011
THE PRICE OF POACHING
The little village of Schoenmakerskop where I live lies along the Indian Ocean and the shores were blessed with a large population of Abalone (Haliotis midae). The Abalone can be dived fairly easily and taste good when prepared properly. When prepared badly they have all the characteristics of a car tyre - hard, rubbery and difficult to chew.
Unfortunately the mysterious East decided that the poor Abalone had miraculous aphrodisiacal properties and the Abalone poachers moved in. I no longer dive for Abalone because the population has been reduced by poachers to the extent that they are rapidly becoming endangered. The poaching has become big business and the poachers are polite but get very aggressive if you threaten their activities and the threats go from swearing to threats to your dogs, family, house and person.
Yesterday when I returned home the village was full of police and a police helicopter was parked at the end of the road. I walked a short distance along a coastal trail and came across a sad scene. The body of a young alleged poacher was lying on the rocks and in the vicinity were vehicles belonging to the police, coastal rescue services, nature conservation and a van from the mortuary services. It appears that 6 poachers entered the water at sunrise, three decided the sea was too rough and returned to shore. The others carried out their dive but one drowned. The sea whipped up by a strong wind was unsuitable for diving.
While I was waiting for the helicopter to lift the body the wife of the alleged poacher arrived. I was proud of the police who prevented her from clambering over the rocks and a police woman comforted the poor woman along the shore. This was a painful moment.
The rewards for poaching and the poachers are high if things go well but the price is even higher for the poacher when things go wrong.