Published on July 13th, 2012 | by Rhishja Cota-Larson


Rhino Crisis Round Up: Prison Sentence for Museum Thief & More

July 13th, 2012 by

One person is jailed in the U.K. for involvement in a rhino horn theft, and five suspects have been denied bail in South Africa for rhino crimes.

This week, the Norwich Crown Court sentenced Nihad Mahmod to two-and-a-half years in jail for taking part in a rhino horn robbery at Norwich Castle in February.

According to BBC News, the other three gang members are still at large.

Over the last few years, rhino horn exhibits at museums have been targeted by thieves hoping to cash in on black market prices.

Rhino death toll rising

The latest figures released by the South African Government show that the country’s rhino death toll has risen to at least 262 since the beginning of the year.

In an effort to combat the abuse of hunting loopholes, the Department of Environmental Affairs noted that “amended norms and standards” for the trophy hunting of rhinos went into effect on April 10th.

Hunting applicants must provide “proof of membership of a hunting association in the country of usual residence of the hunting client”.

In addition, the “hunting association must be recognised by the government of the country of residence of the hunting client” and the applicant must provide “a curriculum vitae indicating his/her hunting experience in his/her country of usual residence and proof of previous experience in the hunting of any African species”.

(See “Mules Hunting Rhinos? Sinister Scam Unfolds in South Africa” for more information about how trophy hunting is linked to illegal trade in rhino horns.)

No bail

Meanwhile, five people arrested for rhino crimes in South Africa have been denied bail.

News24 reports that the appeal by Duncan Mnisi, Tiyene Mabunda, Charles Mabunda and Doctor Mgwenyama was rejected by the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.

All four were Kruger National Park employees at the time of their arrest.

Also denied bail was Joseph Nyalunga. He is facing 16 counts of dealing in rhino horn and money laundering.

Nyalunga — a former police officer — was arrested earlier this year for allegedly dealing in rhino horns while out on bail for a previous crime.

Earlier this month, game farmer (and convicted rhino horn dealer) Jacques Els began serving his eight year sentence, after a failed appeal.

White rhino via Shutterstock.

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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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