Marine Anti-Poaching Unit reports to you today, 28 September 2017, with an exhausted team.
Our first notification at 6:40 AM was to advise of a suspicious vehicle entering Pringle Bay. DAFF (Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) and Cape Nature were notified immediately by the Marine Anti-Poaching Unit. When we arrived at the location the divers were already in the water at Hangklip slip. Marine Anti-Poaching Unit made contact with DAFF and Cape Nature again.
DAFF arrived and with Marine Anti-Poaching Unit continued with surveillance of the divers.
Marine Anti-Poaching Unit spotted a OP (Observation Post) in the dunes and utilised our surveillance drone to view their activity. When the drone was spotted 3 OP’s came out of hiding and started running away along the beach. It was clear that one of the OP’s was calling someone whilst running.
Observation with DAFF continued and when the poachers eventually exited the water the area was searched and the abalone was recovered and transported to SAPS.
At the start of our second patrol two vehicles with poachers were spotted in Pringle Bay and escorted out of the area.
As the team was escorting the vehicles out of Pringle Bay another vehicle was spotted entering the area and was pursued. The team stopped behind the vehicle at Pringle Bay beach parking on Hangklip road. Divers were already exiting the vehicle at this point and started running towards the ocean. The Marine Anti-Poaching Unit split with one member pursuing the running divers, whilst the other member was dealing with the driver and divers still in the vehicle.
Marine Anti-Poaching Unit was about to escort the vehicle out of Pringle Bay when another call came through reporting divers in Rooiels, at this point we reached out to DAFF again as we had to first deal with the problem at hand.
The vehicle in question was racing down Beach Road and we caught up with them at Pringle Bay slip. The divers jumped out of the vehicle, ran into the ocean and the vehicle left the area.
Marine Anti-Poaching Unit continued to observe the divers when another suspicious vehicle was spotted. We assume that they were checking up on the divers and activity of Marine Anti-Poaching Unit. This vehicle was then escorted out of Pringle Bay.
At this point we were confident that all poacher transport vehicles were exited from Pringle Bay and decided to observe the cross road at Pringle Bay entrance as the divers had to be collected at some point. Within 30 minutes the same vehicle from our initial notice received the morning, arrived. The vehicle was prevented from entering Pringle Bay by Marine Anti-Poaching Unit.
The response team stayed on the cross road for some time and then drove back to the area where the divers were in the water. Prior to reaching the area we found the divers walking down Hangklip Road. Within minutes the vehicle arrived, the divers jumped on board and raced out of the town.
We urge all residents from Rooiels to Kleinmond to keep an eye out for these particular vehicles with registration numbers WC1976WP and CA210177 as they have been confirmed as transport vehicles for poachers, taking them and collecting them from diving spots in the Pringle Bay area.
Please do not approach the vehicles, but let us know their location should you see them. (See contact details at end of this article)
We can confirm that bulk of the transport vehicles have Cape Town registration numbers and due to our ability to respond quickly today. Based on information received from the public and our observations, we believe that even though the divers were in the water they did not have enough time to remove intended mass of abalone, if any.
It was a bit of a rat race, but we still made a difference. With your support we can continue with our mission to remove poachers from the area.
Please contact any of the following entities with any information or to flag suspicious activity and vehicles:
DAFF (Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries): 028 313 2703
Cape Nature: 028 271 513 / 028 314 0062
SAPS (South African Police Service): 028 271 4219
Sea Watch: 082 994 9300
Marine Anti-Poaching Unit: 060 907 2325