Illegal trade

Illegal horns trade continues to threaten Africa’s rhinos

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Business Daily | December 11, 2019

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The Chinese penchant for the rhino horn is driving the illegal trade in this prehistoric animal up again. With their newfound wealth, the Chinese are on a spending spree buying the horn coveted for its perceived value, ranging from trinkets to medicine that can supposedly cure anything.

The tragedy is that the rhino is from an ancient lineage dating some 60 million years ago, far longer than that of the elephant. Yet today because of our greed, the rhino is on its last leg. In the past its territory spread across much of Africa for the black rhino and white rhino. It was the same for the three Asian species — Javan, Sumatran and the Greater one-horned rhino.

Lucy Vigne has been studying the illegal trade in rhino horn since the 1980s with the late Dr Esmond Bradley Martin, who pioneered research in the business in the 1970s when he saw smuggled cargo leaving the then far-flung ancient port of Lamu. She continues with the research working towards her PhD.

Original photo as published by Business Daily: Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) officer offloads part of 105 tonnes of ivory and 1.5 tonnes of rhino horns stockpile worth billions of shillings at KWS headquarters in Nairobi on April 15, 16 ahead of a planned destruction on April 30. (FILE PHOTO | NMG )

She points to a map enlarged on a screen showing a few red dots against a sweeping swathe of green that was the range of the rhino historically. The red dots are spots on the globe where the rhino is today.

Vigne was an invited speaker for the Friends of Nairobi National Park monthly meeting held beside the national park that is a stronghold for the indigenous black rhino and the imported white from South Africa. The park is an important breeding sanctuary for this iconic animal.

“It’s history repeating itself,” says the petite rhino woman, referring to the rhino crisis in the 1970s fuelled by the Yemenis’ penchant for the traditional daggers topped with rhino horn handles after the oil boom in Saudi Arabia. Yemenis flocked to Saudi Arabia for jobs returning with dollars to buy the dagger with the rhino horn handle that was once the preserve of the rich. It’s only after the political unrest in Yemen and the economic crash that the trade went down.

“This time it’s the Chinese and Vietnamese,” she says.

Demand for rhino horn in Asia has been growing since the early 2000s, with the economic boom in China and Vietnam. It increased especially in 2008 and peaked between 2012 and 2013. The horn is still in demand, with poaching mainly in in South Africa where most rhinos are today, the majority being the white rhino.

In Kenya rhino poaching is under control because of increased conservation and anti-poaching efforts but East Africa is still a conduit for the continent’s illegal wildlife trade flowing to Asia.

The Chinese population has increased in Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa building the infrastructure. The economies of China, Vietnam and Laos are the fastest growing in the world today, expanding by some six per cent per annum.

During the 1970s crisis, black rhino numbers crashed from an estimated 65,000 in 1970 to about 2,400 by 1995. Kenya’s black rhino population collapsed from 20,000 in 1970 to 400 over this time — a drastic 98 percent drop. A combination of a devastating drought in Tsavo in the 1970s, the civil wars in Sudan, Zaire (today’s DRC) and Uganda, with firearms easily available to the poachers to hunt elephants for their tusks and rhinos for their horns, caused this catastrophe on the continent.

It shocked governments into action, banning the international trade in rhino products by 1977 through CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species). By the late 1990s, rhino numbers began to increase. “But overall the rhino range had shrunk,” states Vigne, pointing to the red dots.

With the current demand for horn, it’s the southern white rhino which has been hardest hit in South Africa’s vast Kruger National Park with Mozambique on its long eastern border. There have not been enough rangers to protect this huge area from the onslaught of poaching. About 400 patrollers at any one time cover an area of 19,500 square kilometres, which equates to one patroller for 49 square kilometres. “Ideally,” states Vigne, “a large area requires a ranger per 10 square kilometres and double that for small areas.”

Inadequate manpower to protect the mega-herbivore in South Africa is a challenge.

Ironically, the world’s greatest success story in conservation was the revival of the white rhino that was on the brink of extinction in the early 1900s in South Africa. Shot for sport by the great white hunters and for clearance to a couple of hundred, South Africa built her population of the white rhino up to 19,000 by 2012.

Then the poaching suddenly soared to over a 1,000 rhinos killed a year for its horn. In 2015, an estimated 1,215 rhinos were poached in South Africa. And poaching continues with hundreds killed each year.

This all coincides with the disposable income of the Chinese. Between 2012 and 2013, the price of rhino horn on the wholesale market in China and Vietnam peaked at $65,000 per kilogramme. Two years late it had declined by half because of a glut in the market making it affordable for the average Chinese, and prices have continued to fall, making it available to many.

China shares borders with Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar. Vietnam has a long coastline, making it easy for smuggled goods to enter. Goods are then easily sailed along the Mekong River which flows through China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

The price of rhino horn items for retail sale halved to about $53 per gram in Vietnam in 2015. It has made the horn even more available to the Chinese who hop over the border for a shopping spree around Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, despite rhino horn being illegal in Vietnam and China. In neighbouring Laos the Chinese as in Africa are building infrastructure. With this insurgence, shops in exclusive hotel boutiques selling rhino horn trinkets and ivory items have escalated and are sold to Chinese (or any buyer).

In addition, gilded casinos attract the Chinese holiday makers to gamble, after which the winners usually head to buy the coveted rhino horn trinket in the boutiques.

The criminal trade in rhino horn is big money, controlled by kingpins who are protected by people in high places. Although there are international organisations like CITES to protect trade in endangered species, they prove to be inadequate.

“It’s down to the political will,” states Vigne. An example is Chitwan National Park in Nepal.

“The policy is no trade and there is one ranger per square kilometre to protect the animals with income shared fairly amongst the local communities in the buffer zones who receive 50 percent of the park tourist revenue. They are thus motivated to help protect the rhinos and be the eyes and ears of the Park. This is similar in India”.

From 200 Greater One-horned rhinos in India and Nepal in 1900 there are over 3,500 today.

It’s something we can emulate – the recovery of a species.

3 testify in high profile Malawi wildlife crime case involving Chinese national

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Harold Kapindu, The Nyasa Times | December 6, 2019

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The hearing of Malawi’s most wanted suspected wildlife trafficker and notorious king pin, Chinese national Lin Yun Hua’s case has started at Lilongwe Magistrates court. Appearing alongside Malawian James Mkwezalamba, Lin Yun Hua is answering charges of money laundering offense and dealing with government trophy.

Presided by Chief resident magistrate Violet Chipao, both the defense and the state cross examined and reexamined two witnesses, South Africa based veterinarian, University of Pretoria Director of veterinary, genetics and laboratory, Dr Cindy Kim Harper and Liwonde National Park Field Operations Manager Lawrence Munlo.

It was established that on 28 February, 2016, a Rhino went missing at Liwonde National Park and was later found killed with its horns cut off.  The found Rhino horn specimen were further sent to South Africa were Dr Harper conducted the DNA tests. On Thursday, witness, McPherson testified and made the defense to seek for an adjournment. The defense addressed the court that they will have to go to Zomba Magistrate Court to get the case file for the case as they claimed that some issues raised by the state witnesses are not in the witness report.

Speaking to Nyasa Times, State council Andy Kaonga said the two witnesses are very important to the case. “Bringing in the foreign witness, Dr Harper who is an expert in DNA testing would have been a challenge. We are therefore happy that she came and testified. We have eight witnesses. We are done with two and remaining with six,” Kaonga said.

In his brief remarks, Defense Counsel Chrispin Ndalama said the court would determine whether Dr Harper’s tests on samples are relevant or not. In November, Lin Yun Hua pleaded guilty to the charge of Illegal possessions of specimen of listed species, 103 pieces of Rhino horn.

Facts were presented and court convicted him on his own plea of guilty. A total of ten Chinese and four Malawian nationals have been arrested this year in relation to the syndicate in question and are at various stages of trial. Meanwhile, Chief Magistrate Chipao has adjourned the case to 21 January 2020.

Two white rhinos killed in Kenya, horns stolen

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The East African | December 9, 2019

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Two southern white rhinos have been shot and killed in central Kenya, and their horns stolen.

The raiders gained access to the highly secured electric-fenced Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Meru County around 11pm Friday night, Chief Operations Officer Dr Tuqa Jirmo confirmed.

In a statement to media, he said; “This incident serves as a reminder that the threat from poaching is ever present, and all sanctuaries holding rhinos cannot afford to be complacent. The poaching scourge and illegal rhino horn trade continue to put the survival of rhinos at risk across the continent.”

He added that the conservancy is working with the police and Kenya Wildlife Service over the incident.

Local customs seize rhino horn stash (Shanghai)

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Ke Jiayun, Shine | December 3, 2019

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Shanghai Customs has seized nearly 1 kilogram of rhinoceros horn and delivered them for further investigation, the authority released on Tuesday.

According to customs officers at the Shanghai Pudong International Airport, on November 7, they found a batch of parcels from South Africa that were suspected of containing smuggled articles.

Original photo as published by Shine: Parts of rhinoceros horns seized at the Shanghai Pudong International Airport by customs officers.

Declared to contain plastic sheets, the parcels were suspiciously labeled with vague address and receiver contact information.

After opening the boxes, officers found some plastic-like blocks and tests showed they were rhinoceros horns.

This year, customs authorities have intercepted several batches of rhinoceros horns at local airports. Prior to this case, the Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport had seized eight rhinoceros horns and 24 horn products which together weighed more than 12 kilograms.Ti Gong

On July 1, customs officers at the Hongqiao airport discovered a load of rhinoceros horns during a luggage screening.

After confronting two suspects at the airport, a further investigation showed that a gang of three smuggled rhino horns from South Africa to Shanghai through Hong Kong.

The 31 pieces of rhinoceros horns and products weighed nearly 10 kilograms and were valued at an estimated 2.45 million yuan (US$350,000). The case is still under investigation.

In some East Asian countries like China and South Korea, rhinoceros horns are often made into medicine. In Arabic countries, they are made into crafts to show social status.

China banned rhinoceros horn trading in 1993 and gives tough punishments for sales and transportation of horns or related products.

K9 unit to boost security at King Shaka airport (South Africa)

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Danica Hansen, Northglen News | November 26, 2019

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In a bid to strengthen border policing operations, King Shaka International Airport (KSIA) and the South African Police Services (SAPS) Border Policing recently launched a K9 Unit.

Comprising of seven K9 handlers and dogs the unit has been specifically trained to detect; narcotics (four dogs), explosives (two dogs) and protected species in the detention of rhino horn, crayfish, ivory wet and dry abalone.

Two of the dogs are German Shepherds, three Labradors and two Belgian Shepherds.

“Before the dogs came, we used to detect drugs ourselves, these dogs are valuable tools, they help us detect drugs quicker,” said Sergeant Jonathan Moonsamy who works in the unit with his dog, Adolia who is trained for narcotic detection.

He added that most of the dogs in the unit are from the Netherlands.

Original photo as published by Northglen News: Constable Promise Fakude and her dog, Lisa with Sergeant Mandla Dladla and his dog, Blaze and Sergeant Jonathan Moonsamy with his dog, Adolia at King Shaka International.

“Physical training is strenuous. It’s about five and a half months. We have the opportunity to train these dogs from the very beginning. There are various disciplines- narcotics, explosives and protected species. I really wanted to pursue a career in the K9 unit. It’s a very distinguished unit and a very special unit. I love dogs ,” he said.

Airports Company South Africa spokesperson, Colin Naidoo said the dogs will be housed at the SAPS Central Dog Unit while temporary facilities at KSIA are being prepared with a permanent solution in the pipeline.

“This unit has already been very active at the airport and we have noticed the positive interaction of the public towards the dogs and their handlers. It is indeed an added service to the public to ensure their safety and security at the airport. The K9 Unit at KSIA will form part of an integrated approach adopted by the security agencies at the airport. The unit will work closely with the current Reshibile Aviation Security canine team and ensure a sense of security and safety for airport users. It must be noted that as these dogs are specifically trained, so they are also very people friendly with the professional guidance of the handler we encourage the public to interact with them when you visit King Shaka International Airport,” he said.

King Shaka International Airport general manager Terence Delomoney said, “We are delighted to welcome these highly skilled and specialised dogs to add to the overall safe keeping of our airport and borders. Today, dogs continue to serve vital roles in maintaining airport security from that first screening before boarding to that final check while crossing through customs and border patrol.”

During their daily routine, detection dog handlers and their canines may search cargo shipments, luggage, and passenger carry-on bags.

A handler must be familiar with his or her dog’s behaviour during searches and if a positive indication is detected, the handlers must write up detailed reports on each case where their dog detects a prohibited substance and seize such exhibits and arrest the perpetrators.

Handlers are also responsible for providing all basic care for their dogs such as providing food and water, grooming, bathing, and taking the dog out for bathroom breaks and patrols throughout the day.

They also participate in regular training exercises to keep the dog sharp and to monitor its effectiveness in detecting planted samples.

Brigadier Anthony Gopaul, Section Head of Operational Response Services Border Policing Durban Harbour said: “We want this K9 to grow with the airport, to project its needs and future capacity in alignment with the airport expansion programmes and added flight destinations and routes. SAPS K9 must and will be a capability for the airport, the people that travel through it and the team that is mandated to maintain security standards and specialised capability at KSIA.”


WWF-M’sia: Loss of Iman signifies time to focus on protecting wildlife

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The Borneo Post | November 25, 2019

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KOTA KINABALU: WWF-Malaysia is saddened by the unfortunate loss of Sabah’s last surviving rhino, Iman, who died on Saturday after a long battle with cancer.

Iman’s death follows Tam, who died earlier this year due to kidney and liver damage.

The loss of Iman signifies the complete loss of the Sumatran rhino in Sabah. The hope of ever seeing this species in the wild is now forever gone.

Over the years, WWF-Malaysia has worked together with the government and other non-governmental organisations to help curb the extinction of the Sumatran rhinoceros in Sabah. The organisations have set up camera traps in search for rhinos, which led to the detection of Tam in 2009 and then Iman in 2014.

Original photo as published by The Borneo Post: Sophia Lim.

In a last bid to save the Sumatran rhino, the Sabah state government, WWF-Malaysia and the Borneo Rhino Alliance met with Indonesian government officials to outline key details in a much-needed collaboration between Malaysia and Indonesia in rhino conservation.

“Malaysia is home to some of the most iconic wildlife species in the world. This includes the Malayan tiger, the Bornean elephant, the Bornean orangutan and many more.

“While we can do little to prevent the loss of the Sumatran rhinos on our lands, we can still do so much for our other remaining species, all of whom are in danger of facing similar fates of extinction if we don’t address the threats that they are facing,” said WWF-Malaysia’s CEO, Sophia Lim.

One of the biggest threats to wildlife is the threat of poaching and illegal wildlife trade. Every day, wildlife like tigers, banteng, pangolins, sun bears and elephants face the threat of poachers who hunt them as part of a lucrative business.

Tackling issues such as poaching requires a concerted effort between all parties – the government, non-governmental organisations and the general public. WWF-Malaysia urges the government to further enhance the effort to eradicate poaching and act fast in bolstering efforts to preserve the remaining wildlife that we have.

“We are heartened that the Royal Malaysian Police has stepped up in collaboration with other agencies to patrol the forest, investigate and make arrest with intelligence provided by Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah Forestry Department, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks in Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak Forestry Corporation and Forest Department Sarawak. We have seen some successes in poachers being arrested and seizures of wildlife meat from the makers. This is but a tip of the iceberg of an illegal economy worth billions of dollars.

“Wildlife crime is not just a local problem but is part of an international wildlife trade syndicate associated with drug and human trafficking, as well as money laundering. As such, the call to set up a Wildlife Crime Bureau within the Royal Malaysian Police is indeed timely to collaborate with international agencies such as Interpol, Traffic International and regional wildlife hubs set up by WWF for Africa and Asia.

“While we must collectively address the threat of poaching, we must also work on saving the natural habitats that harbour our wildlife species. The remaining forests that we have should be retained either as protected areas for wildlife sanctuaries, or forest reserves where harvesting of timber is done in a refined and sustainable manner that allows wildlife to co-exist,” Lim stressed.

“Where our forests are fragmented, wildlife corridors should be established to enable breeding among different population groups to maintain healthy gene pools. Isolated populations inevitably face inbreeding, and in the long-term face extinction. Government needs to formulate the policies and enact regulations, scientists and conservationists to identify the locations, and private sector to set aside land for the restoration of forests into wildlife corridors.

In Peninsular Malaysia the Central Forest Spine Masterplan informs on fragmented forests that need to be connected. Likewise, the Heart of Borneo Initiative in Sabah and Sarawak calls for a corridor project connecting protected areas and forest reserves through sustainable land use.

“We need better policies and stronger legislations to regulate wildlife conservation into land uses that are administered by different agencies according to various laws. On our part, we will continue to work closely with the various government agencies to coordinate implementation efforts on the ground that will hopefully curb the loss of more wildlife,” said Lim.

“Ultimately, ensuring the survival of wildlife is a responsibility that is shared by all. It is only in collective effort that we will be able to keep our wildlife in our forest and our seas.

“Our loss of a beautiful species in Sabah is a sobering reminder that nature is not invincible, and a desperate wake up call to protect other wildlife from suffering the same fate,” she said.

Small court that leads the fight against poaching faces closure (South Africa)

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Matthew Savides, The Times Select | November 26, 2019

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SA’s so-called “poaching court” faces being shut down, despite it having a perfect conviction rate since 2017.

Citing logistical challenges and costs, plans are afoot to move Skukuza Regional Court, a vital cog in the war on the slaughter of rhino in the Kruger National Park, more than 100km away. It is a move activists believe will set the fight against poaching back several steps.

At the time of the court’s opening in April 2017, the late Edna Molewa, environmental affairs minister at the time, said: “Having a regional court in Skukuza will ensure that the case turnaround times for rhino poaching and related cases are expedited, thus making a significant contribution to tackling the illicit trade in rhino horn and any other related activities.”

The court dealt mainly with poaching cases because of its proximity to the Kruger National Park.

But two and a half years later, the court – which a month ago handed down a 20-year sentence to a would-be poacher bust inside the park in 2017 – may no longer operate.

It was due to close mid-October, with cases moved to the Mhala Magistrates’ Court, north of Bushbuckridge, until the justice ministry stepped in. Mpumalanga judge president Francis Legodi has launched an investigation into the matter.

Access to the court, as well as costs of staff to travel to attend the court’s periodical sittings, have been cited as reasons for the move to the Mhala regional court.

According to a response to parliamentary questions last month, the justice ministry confirmed Mpumalanga had a rhino poaching conviction rate of 100% from 101 cases since September 2016 – with 160 people convicted. Times Select understands about three dozen of those cases were heard in Skukuza. Many of these cases have been heard elsewhere, including at Mhala.

Comparatively, 210 cases have been heard across the country, including in Mpumalanga, with 11 acquittals – a conviction rate of 94.8%.

Justice ministry spokesperson Chrispin Phiri last week told Times Select there were no easy answers to the saga.

He said Skukuza’s location made it difficult for prosecutors and magistrates to attend to matters. But he also admitted moving cases to Mhala would make it difficult for experts – mostly situated in or around Kruger – to testify.

“The judge president [Legodi] has given a directive that the court should not be closed down until we find a solution. There’s no easy way out of it at this stage. Everyone is hands on deck,” he said.

But while a decision is being made, many are outraged that the closure is even being considered. A petition on calling for the court to remain open had garnered more than 104,000 signatures by Monday afternoon.

“My concern is about the motives behind the apparent lobby to close the Skukuza regional court,” said Andrew Campbell, CEO of the Game Rangers Association of Africa.

“In the interests of justice, why would anyone want to tamper with something that is working so effectively? The Skukuza court has shown to be effective in backing up the efforts of rangers on the frontline.”

Campbell added moving the court to Mhala would take rangers out of the field for extended periods when they had to testify.
“Patrolling a park the size of Kruger National Park is hard enough as it is, but when key ranger personnel are sitting in court 100km away from the park, it makes it even harder to have sufficient manpower on the ground. They face intimidation, threats and violence when travelling outside of the park,” he said.

Anti-poaching activist Jamie Joseph of Saving the Wild said Skukuza was the one court where justice was being upheld in poaching cases.

“Until Saving the Wild started exposing the corruption in the courts in Zululand, a lot of rhino poachers got off with a fine and no jail time. If we lose Skukuza court the Kruger cases will go the same way. There is just too much money and power behind these poaching syndicates. They will infiltrate the courts outside the park,” she said.

Notable Sentences:

  • October 2019 – Skukuza Regional Court sentences Carlos Sithole to 20 years in prison after he was convicted for trespassing at Kruger National Park and found in possession of an unlicensed firearm, possession of a firearm with intent to commit a crime, pointing of firearm and possession of a prohibited firearm with no serial number. He was arrested in 2015.
  • August 2019 – Skukuza Regional Court hands 10-year prison terms to Adolph Ndlovu and Abednigo Mahlabane for charges including trespassing into the Kruger National Park and possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition. A third man, Jeffrey Mathebula, was sentenced for trespassing in a national park and fined R10,000, or two years’ imprisonment.
  • November 2018 – Skukuza Regional Court sentences Patrick Nkuna to 33 years behind bars. He and his accomplices attempted to shoot at a SANParks helicopter during the arrest. Nkuna was charged with 12 counts, including four counts of attempted murder, trespassing in a national park and possession of an illegal firearm.

Rhino poaching bid foiled in Assam, 4 held (India)

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The Shillong Times | November 27, 2019

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GUWAHATI: A joint operation of state police and forest teams led to the arrest of four “wanted” poachers in the Behali area of central Assam’s Biswanath district on Tuesday night, a statement said.

Sources said the rhino poachers were intercepted at Botiamari-Rangsali Road around 9.30pm on Tuesday while they were coming by a tempo (bearing registration number AS12AC5797) to the hunt rhinos at Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve.

Original photo as published by The Shillong Times: The arrested poachers with the recovered items. (ST)

The search operation, based on specific inputs, was led by range officer Pranjal Baruah, crime investigation range, range officer, Nayan Jyoti Gogoi, Gamiri range and Raju Dowarah, officer-in-charge Behali police station with the help of 2nd battalion Assam Forest Protection Force.

During detection and on further search, ration/grocery items, mobile phones and some other incriminating articles (used in poaching rhinos) were recovered from their possession. Investigation is on.

The arrested poachers include Paosanthang Guite (33) alias Thang, who is a sharp shooter, Babul Das (44), Bimal Bania, 24, and Sukhdev Mukhiya (55). All the four were on the “most wanted list” of the police and they have been involved in many rhino poaching cases of Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve in the past.

Kruger Park ranger single-handedly apprehends gang of rhino poachers (South Africa)

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Landé Willemse, The Citizen | November 27, 2019

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An intelligence-driven operation in the Malalane section of the park resulted in the arrest of five men suspected of poaching two rhinos.

A heroic ranger single-handedly apprehended a gang of five heavily armed suspected rhino poachers in the Kruger National Park (KNP) on Saturday, reports Lowvelder.

This after an intelligence-driven operation in the Malalane section of the park resulted in the arrest of five men suspected of poaching two rhinos.

Original photo as published by The Citizen.

Ike Phaahla, general manager of communications for the KNP, said they were grateful that the ranger was not injured during this brave act.

“We are grateful for his braveness, but even more grateful that no harm came to him.”

He added that the suspects were in possession of five fresh rhino horns, a high-calibre hunting rifle, ammunition and poaching equipment. The vehicle in which they were travelling, a kombi, has also been impounded for further investigation.

Phaahla was saddened that the arrests came after the poachers had already killed at least two rhino, rather than before, when they could have been stopped before firing a single shot.

“The arrests followed the discovery of two fresh rhino carcasses. The dead animals had been covered with grass and twigs to try and hide them from sight and delay their discovery.”

The section ranger immediately deployed his rangers around the area to look for possible suspicious vehicles.

“He spotted the kombi with two visible passengers and three others who were hiding not far from where the carcasses were discovered.”

When confronted and stopped, the driver produced a permit for two people. The ranger instructed him to get out of the vehicle with his hands in the air, and opened the rear door to expose the other armed passengers.

According to Phaahla, the ranger then loudly instructed them to lie on the ground next to the driver. He handcuffed three and while arresting the fourth, that suspect then pointed out that a fifth suspect had his firearm aimed at the ranger.

“Fortunately he failed to pull the trigger and the section ranger was able to call for backup.”

The suspects are in custody and SANParks is not ruling out further arrests. They will appear in court in due course to face rhino poaching-related charges.

The CEO of SANParks, Fundisile Mketeni, congratulated the team on the arrests and continued to warn criminals that KNP was ready to stop them in their tracks.

“We are thankful that one ranger managed to subdue five criminals without any harm unto himself and continue to warn those who intend poaching in the KNP that our dedicated staff, technology and information from communities will lead to your incarceration. We won’t stop until all criminals are removed from society.”

Cops recover 100 rhino horns, four tiger carcasses, guns and ammunition during raids (South Africa)

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Ntwaagae Seleka, News24 | November 27, 2019

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North West police have recovered 100 rhino horns, four tiger carcasses, a tiger skin, weapons and hundreds of rounds of ammunition during a raid on two farms in the province.

The raids took place in Klerksdorp and Hartebeesfontein during an intelligence-driven operation by the Organised Crime Unit and illicit mining team on Tuesday, which resulted in the arrest of five suspects.

Original photo as published by News24: Rhino horn. (File, AFP)

Police spokesperson Brigadier Sabata Mokgwabone said the raids were part of the police’s ongoing endeavour in the province to turn the tide against illicit mining.

“The suspects’ arrests emanated from the operationalisation of intelligence about illegal firearms which were reportedly kept on a farm in the Klerksdorp area. During the operation, a hunting rifle, shotgun, special revolver, pistol as well as a number of empty cartridges and live rounds of ammunition were recovered.

“Moreover, the police confiscated what appeared to be a tiger skin. Further probes led the police to another farm in the Hartebeesfontein area where two suspects were arrested for being in possession of illegal firearms that included a rifle, hunting rifle, pistol, revolver as well as 708 rounds of ammunition,” said Mokgwabone.

The two suspects were found in possession of approximately 100 rhino horns, four tiger carcasses and US dollars valued at R45 900.

The five suspects are expected to appear in the Klerksdorp Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.

North West provincial commissioner Lieutenant General Baile Motswenyane commended the officers for their hard work which resulted in the arrests and confiscations.

Motswenyane said the arrests would send a clear message that the police would leave no stone unturned in ensuring that those who disrespect the rule of law, including possessing illegal firearms, would be dealt with accordingly.