An accomplished criminal wanted for abduction, attempted murder, and killing rhinos in both South Africa and Swaziland has been shot dead after firing on police officers.
Rhino killers identified
To follow up on last week’s news about a rhino killing gang that opened fire when confronted by police in Swaziland, it turns out that one of the deceased was a career criminal with a deadly past.
According to the Times of Swaziland, Lucky Maseko was wanted by South African and Swazi authorities, and also listed on INTERPOL for environmental crimes.
Maseko reportedly massacred at least ten rhinos in two years. He was previously arrested in September 2010 by South African authorities, in connection with several rhino killings.
At the time of his September 2010 arrest, Maseko was out on bail and wanted for abduction and attempted murder.
As of this writing, Maseko can be seen here on the INTERPOL website.
Maseko’s accomplices were identified as Fanafana Maseko and Mduduzi Ma-tsebula. All three were from South Africa.
Rhino horn suppliers also to blame
Vietnam’s Thanh Nien Daily has published an in-depth article about the ease in which illegal rhino horn – from both Asian and African rhinos – can be procured in that country.
A reporter posing as “a customer looking for rhino horn to treat his father’s cancer” found rhino horn for sale in “pharmacies” located in Ho Chi Minh city.
Besides rhino horn, tools for grinding rhino horn were also readily available.
However, Raoul du Toit, a Zimbabwean environmentalist and prestigious Goldman Prize winner, explained that rhino horn suppliers in South Africa “are also to blame” for the situation.
Many people in South Africa are also to blame for the poaching crisis, including a number of rhino owners who have illegally sold horns that they have derived from their rhinos.
Tom Milliken of the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC added that there is “growing pressure” to declare a moratorium on rhino hunting in South Africa because of rampant loophole abuse.
Learn more about:
- How South Africa’s legal loopholes are used as a cover for the illicit rhino horn trade: “Concern Grows Around South Africa’s Legal Trade in Live Rhinos“
- How South African trophy hunt operators work with rhino horn syndicates to launder rhino horn for the Vietnamese market: “Mules Hunting Rhinos? Sinister Scam Unfolds in South Africa“. (Also available here in Chinese and Thai.)
Fabulous rhino calendars
Gorgeous 2012 rhino calendars are now available, thanks to the International Rhino Keeper Association (IRKA) and International Rhino Foundation (IRF).
Photos were submitted by rhino enthusiasts from around the world, and the winning twelve were selected by vote. In all, 77 participants submitted a total of 271 photos, and 4,090 votes were cast.
The calendar proceeds will be used to help purchase supplies for rhino protection units in Zimbabwe and South Africa.
To purchase your calendar (US $26), please see the IRKA/IRF Calendar Fundraiser page on the IRKA website here.
Image #1 & #2 © iStockphoto.com; #3 International Rhino Keeper Association