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Operation Lock and the War on Rhino Poaching

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Operation Lock and the War on Rhino Poaching.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    John Hanks(Author)

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The aggressive poaching of rhinos needs to be countered with equal aggression. So argued Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, the founder president of the World Wide Fund for nature (WWF), at a 1987 meeting with John Hanks, conservation expert and WWF's head in Africa. The result was Operation lock, a secret initiative funded by Prince Bernhard and staffed by former SAS operatives. Operation lock set up headquarters in Johannesburg and extended its reach into neighbouring states: Namibia, Zambia, Botswana, Swaziland and Mozambique. Its operatives planned to train game rangers, to pose as rhino horn traders in order to entrap buyers, and to expose the kingpins who were driving the trade. It was a controversial approach, all the more because it was working within apartheid South Africa in the late 1980s. When the existence of the project was finally leaked, WWF denied any involvement, and John Hanks took the fall. In Operation lock and the War on rhino poaching, John Hanks finally tells the story of these explosive events from 25 years ago. As a leading international authority on conservation, he also deals with the scourge of rhino poaching up to the present, and gives powerful and controversial criticism of some of the current policies to curb poaching.

John Hanks is a zoologist with a PhD from Cambridge and with over 45 years of experience in a wide variety of conservation management and research projects in several African countries. He has held a number of important positions, including chief professional officer for the Natal Parks Board; professor and head of the department of biological sciences at the University of Natal, as well as the first director of that university's institute of natural resources; the director of the Africa programe for WWF international (based in Gland, Switzerland); the chief executive of WWF-South Africa; and the first executive director of the Peace parks foundation.

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Book details

  • PDF | 336 pages
  • John Hanks(Author)
  • The Penguin Group (SA) (Pty) Ltd (20 Aug. 2015)
  • English
  • 7
  • Science & Nature

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Review Text

  • By Albina Hume on 28 December 2015

    As a wife of a private rhino breeder and a proud rhino owner myself, living in South Africa, I've been a witness to the rhino poaching wars and I know the pain from seen the lost lives of these majestic animals.Thanks to Dr. John Hanks, now every animal lover has a great opportunity to learn the first hand experience of the complicity of such illicit trade in rhino horn, a story written in brilliant style, which expose the harsh reality and failure of the three decades battle, where thousands of rhinos have lost their lives, and a few rhino species have gone extinct, while being under the protection of the so called 'banned international trade in rhino horn', which in reality have created only conditions for a full monopoly for illegal traders that are feeding demand with horn from a poached rhinos.The current biggest tragedy in the rhino reality is that while we do have some practical and peaceful solution to the poaching crisis, we still do not use it, allowing rhino massacre to continue. Mostly the general public are still not educated that rhino's horn can be harvested without killing the animal, while most well organized NGO's who collect donations on the wildlife crisis use people's ignorance, driving thousands of emotional followers to oppose the propose of legalization of trade in legally produced horn, making animal lovers unaware of the fact that their voice supports and ensures in place conditions for illegal trade where rhinos lose their lives at a rate 3-a day.By reading this historical adventures account of the undeniable facts it is very hard to ignore the simple truth that if we will allow to keep in place the CITES ban on trade in rhino horn, which been in place since 1977, rhinos will go extinct in the mere 7 years! There's no other alternative- like it or not, unless we make a drastic change and finally drop prohibitions. So it's up to us, to share or not our voice for the rhino's future and support legalization of trade in legally produced horn, where rhino would stay alive and horn grows back. Surely, it's time to save the rhino, not the horn, when we know that demand for horn can be supplied without killing a rhino?'Operation Lock and The War on Rhino Poaching' is a must read for everyone who cares for wildlife and especially for rhino's future!

  • By selousgame on 13 September 2015

    Seminal books documenting the history and emotional allure of African wildlife conservation include the likes of ‘Serengeti Shall Not Die’ by the Grzimeks, ‘Born Free’ by the Adamsons’ and ‘Gorillas in the Mist’ by Dian Fossey. All of these book played a major role in galvanising support for conservation, but, none of them critically analysed why conservation practices on the continent, in the main fail, and only rarely succeed. John Hanks’s book ‘Operation Lock and the War on Rhino Poaching’, admirably fills this gap using the sorry saga of the rhino to illustrate a universal lesson in African wildlife conservation. Hanks is the ideal person to give this master-class on how to effectively manage endangered populations, threatened variously by ruthless poachers, equally ruthless and corrupt politicians and sometimes the overly emotional reactions of well-minded conservation supporters. Over his long and distinguished career Hanks has set himself a task, the core of which, he has handed down to the next generation of conservationists (which include myself) – namely, that in order to conserve and protect takes technical skills, political acumen, ‘heaps worth’ of dedication and an unbreakable code of honour that should distinguish the practitioner from the less than honourable elements that also ‘swim in the same pool’. The book can usefully split into two parts. The first (chapters 1-13) traces the history of ‘Operation Lock’ in which the actions of the various actors and agencies are forensically dissected by Hanks (who himself was a major player in this operation to combat rhino poaching). Those of us who have followed the historiography of ‘Lock’ always knew that Hanks would eventually have his say. However, abiding to the code cited above he bid his time (several decades plus!) and waited for the moment when his revelations would do the most to inform and educate African conservation practitioners. This dissection of ‘Lock’ will help us to frame pressing African conservation problems today (covered in the second part of the book, chapters 14-17). It is the last chapters that deserve to be expanded into a book of their own. The sub-title of the book is ‘the War on Rhino Poaching’ and this sums up really well the inherent problems that face the conservation of large mammals today. We do need some semblance of a military response to organised poaching. But more than this we need to ‘win the peace’ by firstly ensuring that African governments take the sustainable governance of their resources seriously. Second, that Africa awakens to the high value of their ‘crown jewels’ being callously robbed, and, third and most important of all that African people themselves create the space for wild lands to survive and prosper as part and parcel of their local and scaled up, national economies. Well-crafted, scientifically literate books like this one make an unassailable case for this to happen - with all speed.Ken Ferguson, University of Glasgow, Scotland.


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