Check out the latest news in the fight against rhino poaching
996 rhinos poached so far this year
RHINO PROTECTORS BECOME KILLERS?
Three police constables and an ex-corporal field ranger implicated in rhino poaching appeared in the Nelspruit Regional Court on Wednesday.
The constables, Arnold Mashele, Dennis Mkhonto and Morris Sehlabela and the field ranger, Phineas Dinda, were not asked to plead to charges of conspiracy to hunt rhino and illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition, a Sapa correspondent reported. Mashele, Sehlabela and Dinda were arrested in May after a joint operation between the Hawks and national park officials. Mkhonto was arrested later. According to national police spokespersonLt-Gen Solomon Makgale, after the park officials received a tip-off in May, they pulled over a marked Skukuza police bakkie.
Makgale said in a statement that upon further investigation a suspected poacher, armed with a .375 hunting rifle and rounds of ammunition, was found in the back of the vehicle. He said the firearm, ammunition, a silencer and poaching equipment were seized. Prosecutor Isbet Erwee on Wednesday asked for a postponement in order to supply the accused's defense with their case dockets. All four would remain in custody.
TEXAS MAY CANCEL RHINO HUNT
A Texas hunting club says it will cancel an endangered black rhinoceros hunting trip if the US Fish and Wildlife Service denies a request to bring the dead animal back to the US as a trophy.
Corey Knowlton bid $350 000 at a January Dallas Safari Club auction for a rare permit to hunt the animal in Namibia. Decimated by poaching, there are fewer than 5 000 black rhinos worldwide.
The club billed it as a fundraiser to save the endangered species. Executive director Ben Carter says the money would go to a special fund administered by the Namibian government for habitat restoration and game scouting.
The federal agency says it's evaluating whether the hunt will achieve the goal of "enhancing the survival of the species".
SARS SEIZE RHINO HORN & PERLEMOEN
Rhino horn and perlemoen were among illicit goods worth millions seized by SA Revenue Service (Sars) customs officials in October, it said on Friday.
In the biggest ever seizure of rhino horn, two men travelling from Maputo to Vietnam via OR Tambo International Airport were caught with horns weighing 41kg and worth more than R4.5m on 31 October, it said.
The 100kg haul of perlemoen, which had been destined for Hong Kong, was found in a cargo shipment at the airport, said spokesperson Marika Muller.
She said customs officials also seized drugs with a street value of more than R67m, and contraband cigarettes and male sexual enhancement tablets last month.
In the biggest of seven drugs busts, 200kg of crystal methamphetamine worth about R59m on the street was discovered in two cargo shipments from Benin to Johannesburg.
"In all cases, the drugs seized and the individuals involved were handed over to the SA Police Service for further action." said Muller.
She said a former Sars employee was also convicted of two counts of tax fraud and was sentenced to three years' imprisonment.
Muller said the Bellville Magistrate's Court found that Thandeka Mashicila had made a false medical claim on her tax return, and had also helped a taxpayer to claim a fraudulent tax return of R27 000.
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