It would appear that authorities are finally starting to make serious inroads into the rhino horn trafficking underworld. A suspected kingpin, and former Mpumalanga police officer, was arrested on Friday in Hazyview. He was found with four rhino horns, and over R60 000 in his possession.
The arrest follows the shameful news that four SANParks officials based in the Kruger National Park had been detained last week.
And it also follows the news that, in late February, US authorities had cracked a rhino horn smuggling ring in their own country, arresting seven people in California, Texas, New York and New Jersey.
The US arrests came after an 18-month investigation ended. Authorities seized 20 rhino horns, as well as $1 million in cash, diamonds and Rolex watches bought with the profits from the illegal sale of horns.
Crawford Allan, North American director of Traffic, a World Wildlife Fund programme that monitors wildlife trade, said that because rhino horn was “worth more than crack, heroin or gold, pound for pound,” that the emerging wealthy class in Asia consider the horn to be both a good investment, and the ultimate status-enhancing gift.
This was compounded by the fact that many Asians also had the misconstrued belief that rhino horn had wondrous medicinal properties.
Police spokesman, Vish Naidoo, said that after the Hawks had arrested the former Mpumalanga police officer in Hazyview on Friday, that they then acted on further information, and that:
Follow up investigations were conducted, which led to the finding of a further R5 million in cash, over 50 hunting knives as well as several personal computers.
The man was to appear in the Middleburg Magistrate’s Court this morning.
Authorities worldwide are starting to communicate more effectively on the illegal trade of rhino horn.
It’s hoped that the latest crackdowns will lead to more arrests of those involved near the top of the poaching syndicates.
Many 2oceansVibe readers have also been asking how they can help in the global fight, so on that note, look out for a special feature coming your way soon.
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