South African war against rhino poachers

Mail and Guardian

Petty hunters, corrupt officials and Asian traffickers have been snared in SA’s crackdown on rhino poaching as special prosecutors battle syndicates.

More than 160 people are before the courts, exposing the complex supply chain stretching from South African parks to Southeast Asian consumers, said Joanie Spies, a prosecutor with the Rhino Project.

“Slowly but surely we’re moving upwards and getting higher people who did not pull the trigger,” Spies said.

The National Prosecuting Authority set up the team to help combat the dramatic surge in poaching that has seen more than 200 rhinos killed so far this year.

The cases have exposed corruption within the systems meant to protect the animals.

Private game owners, national park rangers and veterinarians have been arrested. Authorities have also caught pilots who flew helicopters to spot and dart the rhinos and both small-time and professional hunters who shot them.

“There is a great level of organisation involved,” Spies said.

Lucky break
Some rhinos are shot by small-time hunters hoping for a lucky break by capturing a horn that sells for more than its weight in gold in Asia, where it is used in traditional medicine.

Not all of these hunters know what they’re doing.

One man in April sawed off a horn from a fiberglass rhino serving as decor at a safari lodge. Other rhinos are killed by professionals who have helicopter support in tracking and darting the animals before hunters shoot and de-horn them.  Read more…

See also –  BBC

South Africa seizes $7m in ‘rhino-poachers’ assets

Rhinos in a game park in South Africa
South Africa has the largest population of rhinos in the world

Police in South Africa have confiscated assets worth nearly $7m (£4m) from three suspected rhino poachers.

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