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“You Have to Buy this Book”: Operation Lock and the War on Rhino Poaching by John Hanks Launched at The Book Lounge

John Hanks

Well before the event was scheduled to begin The Book Lounge began to fill with a steady stream of eager readers determined to get a seat at the launch of Operation Lock and the War on Rhino Poaching by John Hanks.

The topic of rhino poaching, so very close to the hearts of all who care that another vital species is not wiped from the face of the earth, is a vexed and complicated one. The author was joined in a fascinating and disturbing conversation with the erstwhile editor of the Cape Times‘ opinion page, veteran journalist, Tony Weaver.

John Hanks and Tony WeaverOperation Lock and the War on Rhino PoachingWelcoming the duo to the audience, The Book Lounge owner Mervyn Sloman reminded the audience about Hanks’ international and local standing. He said, “This controversial and quite bizarre covert operation forms the basis of this fascinating book, an incredible story that needs to be told. It has been referenced and covered obliquely in other books (Killing for Profit by Julian Rademeyer) but here is a start-to-finish account of the operation and what went on. It is absolutely fascinating!”

Weaver welcomed the audience members, saying, “It is nice to see so many from the world of conservation. Most of you will probably have no money, but you have to buy this book, which is a cross between a thriller, autobiography, history book, text book and a book of philosophy.” He views Operation Lock as a very important book given the increase in the numbers of rhinos currently being poached.

A vibrant and convivial conversation ensued wherein the author and his interlocutor discussed the history of Operation Lock, the entangled politics and corruption surrounding the endeavour to end the scourge of rhino poaching, the brutal reality of those hired to perform the tasks, the insubstantial resources allocated to wildlife preservation and the need to perform “environmental triage”.

He wove together the observation that traditional Chinese medicine has been practised for millennia with the reality that no scientific studies have been done to evaluate the medicinal properties of rhino horn. He believes it could take 1 000 years to change attitudes to this commodity in the East, time the rhinos do not have. A solution would be for rhinos to be farmed with CITES facilitating legal trade. This unpopular view clashes with various political agendas, including the funding of war on the continent, and leads to an ever smaller window of opportunity for the arrest of the desecration of this majestic species.

It was a harrowing discussion, but one that bears deep contemplation and ongoing consideration. For those who could not attend, a podcast gives a record of this important discussion:

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Liesl Jobson (@LieslJobson) tweeted from the launch using #livebooks:


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Facebook album:

Operation Lock and the War on Rhino Poaching

Posted by Books LIVE on Friday, 29 May 2015

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