Animals White rhino with young calf

Published on May 10th, 2012 | by Rhishja Cota-Larson

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Rhino Crisis Round Up: $6.8 Million in Assets Seized from 'Groenewald Gang' Suspects & More

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May 10th, 2012 by

The South African Police Service (SAPS) announced this week that a raid on the properties of rhino horn syndicate suspects Dawie Groenewald, Karel Toet and Manie du Plessis has resulted in the seizure of assets totaling approximately R55 million (US $6.8 million).

A joint team comprised of the Hawks, SAPS, SANDF, the NPA, the Asset Forfeiture Unit and Department of Environmental Affairs conducted the operation.

According to IOL News, the assets included “two helicopters, four plush houses, four farms, a fleet of vehicles including a Mercedes-Benz ML, and several trust accounts”.

Video showing Groenewald’s property during the raid:

It is also alleged that Groenewald and his associates attempted to sell dead rhinos to a local butcher, in an effort to conceal evidence, and then later burned and buried the carcasses.

Groenewald is believed to be part of a South African rhino horn syndicate which includes veterinarians, professional hunters and safari operators. Dubbed the “Groenewald gang”, the suspects are expected to appear in court on October 19th to face 1,872 charges relating to illegal rhino hunting, racketeering, permit violations, money laundering, and contravention of the National Environmental Biodiversity Act.

Rhino death toll continues to rise

South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs released an updated figure of 210 rhinos killed in the country — along with 128 arrests — since the beginning of 2012.

World-famous Kruger National Park was the site of 127 of these slayings.

Rhino killer fatally shot

News24 reports that one suspected rhino killer was fatally shot in Kruger National Park in the Crocodile Bridge area.

The incident occurred when police, the military and SANParks rangers were investigating the murder of a mother rhino and her calf, which led them to three suspects; two accomplices were arrested.

Rhino horn traders arrested

Two rhino horn traders identified as Tej BK and Pramod Adhikari were arrested by Nepalese authorities, and a rhino horn was confiscated.

According to the Himalayan Times, the pair was attempting to sell a rhino horn to an “unidentified client” over the phone.

Meet the Javan rhinos

Amazing footage compiled by park authorities in Indonesia’s Ujung Kulon National Park has documented nearly all of the world’s surviving Javan rhinos!

It takes only 10 minutes and 28 seconds to “meet” more than 30 individual Javan rhinos. Check out the video:

Things that make you go ‘eww’

And finally, if the notion of consuming rhino horns isn’t revolting enough, how about human fetuses?

This week, The Korea Times, Al Jazeera, ABC News and the Wall Street Journal were just few of the news sites reporting on South Korea’s crackdown on the trafficking of “Chinese-made capsules made from dead human babies”.

Similar to the “rhino horn cancer cure” rumor circulating in Vietnam and China, these “human flesh capsules” are said to be “used by terminal cancer patients”.

Apparently, 17,450 “stamina capsules” have been confiscated since August 2011.


White rhino with calf via Shutterstock; chart © Saving Rhinos

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About the Author

Rhishja is the founder of Annamiticus, a nonprofit organization which provides educational information and news about wildlife crime and endangered species. Rhishja has journeyed to the streets of Hanoi to research the illegal wildlife trade, and to the rainforests of Sumatra and Java to document the world’s rarest rhinos. At CITES CoP16 in Bangkok, she joined colleagues from around the world to lobby in favor of protecting endangered species from economic exploitation. When Rhishja is not blogging about the illegal wildlife trade, she enjoys gardening, reading, designing, and rocking out to live music.



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