South Africa safari operator Dawie Groenewald of Out of Africa Adventurous Safaris has been arrested, prosecuted and found guilty of a Lacey Act violation in the United States. I recently sent out an E-mail Extra bulletin alerting hunters about this. According to the US Justice Department, Groenewald imported a leopard from South Africa that had been hunted illegally without permits in 2006. He acquired an export permit in 2008 and falsely claimed the animal had been killed that season. US Fish & Wildlife agent David Hubbard says a cooperative investigation with authorities in South Africa's Limpopo Province was already underway while Groenewald was in the US exhibiting at the SCI convention in Reno this past January. He was arrested trying to return to South Africa at the airport in Montgomery, Alabama, and jailed for eight days. He spent the next 2½ months in home incarceration at his brother's house before being sentenced. Groenewald pleaded guilty to a felony violation of the Lacey Act, was fined $30,000 and ordered to pay $7,500 in restitution to the US hunter who cooperated with investigators after learning that he had unknowingly paid for, and participated in, an illegal safari in South Africa. At press time, I was trying to confirm whether charges are being levied against Groenewald in South Africa as well. As a convicted felon now, Groenewald will not be able to return to the United States.
I recently reported about leopard permits in South Africa and explained that you must ask to see a copy of a permit issued in your name before you proceed to hunt. The same is true in Namibia. Do not fall victim to this kind of fraud. A Lacey Act violation is a felony offense and can cost a US citizen his rights to vote and bear arms as well as up to $200,000 in fines. Do not let an operator put you in this kind of legal and financial risk.