Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rhino masterminds face charges

2010-09-21 17:06

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Johannesburg - Nine members of an alleged rhino poaching ring will appear in court on Wednesday, police said on Tuesday.

"They will definitely appear in the Musina Magistrate's Court tomorrow," Colonel Vishnu Naidoo said.

The nine include two veterinarians, one of their spouses, and a game farmer and his wife.

They were arrested during early morning raids on Monday at Modimolle, Polokwane, and Musina.

The ring was allegedly linked to "hundreds of rhino poaching incidents", Naidoo said.

"No further arrests have been made as yet."

The accused would face charges relating to breaching regulations governing the protection of wildlife.

"This was a joint effort between the Hawks, SA National Parks, the National Prosecuting Authority, and aviation authorities," Naidoo said.

Beeld newspaper reported on Tuesday that the two veterinarians were well-known in Modimolle, and owned an animal clinic and a wildlife organisation involved in catching and transporting game.

The accused were taken into custody until their appearance on Wednesday.

More than 200 rhinos have been killed for their horns since the beginning of this year - up from a total of 122 poached last year.


Conservation agencies, at a press conference earlier this month, said a growing, wealthier middle class in East Asia and a communications boom were some of the causes for the increase in rhino poaching.

"There is a growing middle class in East Asian society that can afford to buy rhino horn... which they use as medicine," World Wildlife Fund (WWF) spokesperson Joseph Okori said.

Rhino horn is incorrectly believed to treat cancer, among other diseases, in some Asian countries.

Spokesperson for rhino conservation agency Traffic, Tom Milliken, said technological advances in communications had affected the increase in rhino poaching.

"There are 100 million cellphones in Africa. Everyone is connected now. A guy can make a call from a game reserve and say 'I've got the horn, come pick me up'.

"Then a car is (organised) to pick him up and in a day or two he can be on a flight out of the country. This was not happening years ago".

He also attributed the rise in rhino poaching to the growing Asian presence in Africa.

Rhino warriors

Wildlife Ranching South Africa (WRSA) recently called for rhino poaching to be legalised in an attempt to combat it.

WRSA manager Reinhardt Holtzhausen, said the re-introduction of rhino horn to the trade industry, under strict control and standards and overseen by South African authorities, would be the "key to the solution".

Thursday marks the WWF's first "Make a noise for rhino day" initiative in support of the country's "rhino warriors" - the men and women who risk their lives daily against the gangs running the illegal rhino horn trade.

Apart from blowing vuvuzelas and tooting car hooters on September 22, the WWF encouraged people to make donations at www.wwf.org.za. which would be used to buy anti-poaching equipment for guards, including binoculars, radios, night-vision gear, body armour and tracking devices.



Comments by Sonny

The people who are supposed to protect the Rhino are killing them!!

Let the truth be known!

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