The headline news from South Africa this month is about the rhino poaching rings. Sadly, a number of safari operators and professional hunters have been accused of participating in these heinous activities. In a late-September sweep conducted in Modimolle, Polokwane and Musina in the Limpopo, authorities arrested Dawie Groenewald and his wife Sariette; veterinarian Karel Toet and his wife Mariza; veterinarian Manie du Plessis, professional hunter Tielman Roos Erasmus, Dewald Gouws, Nardus Rossouw, Leon van der Merwe, Jacobus Martinus Pronk and Paul Matomela. I reported the basics last month and sent E-mail Extra subscribers an update with the latest developments. Various South African newspapers have called Groenewald and his wife the "masterminds" behind the rhino poaching rings. The group made bail and was scheduled to appear for trial in April 2011.
Since then, professional hunter Gys de Preez and farm worker Joseph Maluleka were also arrested. Investigators found the carcasses of 20 rhinos buried on Groenewald's game farm, Prachtig, where he conducted safaris. According to San- Parks, Groenewald had bought between 20 and 30 rhinos from Kruger Park. They stopped selling game to him when they learned of his arrest in the United States earlier this year for importing an illegally hunted leopard from South Africa. At this writing, authorities were also searching Groenewald's farm in Limpopo. The investigation is an interagency effort between SA National Parks, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), aviation authorities and Hawks. Hawks is the Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) unit that targets organized crime, economic crime, corruption and other serious crime referred to it by the National Commissioner of the South African Police Service (SAPS). According to the NPA, the charges against the group include assault, defeating the ends of justice, fraud, corruption, malicious injury to property, illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, contra- vention of the National Environ- mental Management Biodiversity Act, contravention in terms of the Medicines and Related Substances Act, as well as contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act. All were required to hand over their passports and identity documents upon bail. While updating this story, I learned that two other........(continued)