Rhino Crisis Round Up: Busts Galore, Museum Heists & Groenewald Back in Business

In this week’s Round Up: Significant arrests have been made in South Africa and Nepal, while an unspeakable tragedy strikes Kenya.

Meanwhile, the rhino horn robberies continue in Europe – and the notorious (alleged) ringleader of a South African rhino horn syndicate has reared his ugly head.

Celebrity rhino ‘Max’ murdered

In a horrifying act of brutality, the tame celebrity rhino “Max” was murdered at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.

His killers filled him with 17 bullets and hacked out his horns.

Max was an orphaned rhino and had been hand-raised since the age of two weeks. He was featured on the BBC’s “Last Chance to See” program.

You can view a photo tribute to Max called “So long Max! You will be truly missed” on The Ol Pejeta Conservancy’s Facebook® page here.

More museum heists

Antique rhino horn heists continue to sweep across Europe and the UK at an alarming rate.

The natural history museum in Blois, France, was hit over the weekend. Thieves broke in and hauled off the 200-pound (100 kilograms) rhino head exhibit.

Just days before, three antique rhino trophies were stolen during a nightly tour of a Czech castle.

There have been at least 20 rhino horn thefts across Europe and the UK during the past six months. The crime wave prompted Europol to issue a warning last week about the involvement of Irish gangs in these rhino horn robberies.

Groenewald back in business

It would appear that “suspected” rhino horn dealer Dawie Groenewald has been given the green light to start slaughtering rhinos again.

Groenewald is the South African game farmer and safari outfitter who was arrested in September 2010 for (allegedly) killing rhinos and dealing in rhino horn.

Shortly after his arrest, 20 de-horned rhinos were found in a mass grave on his property.

This week, not only was the leader of South Africa’s “Groenewald gang” granted a contract to purchase nine rhinos, it was revealed that he had been issued a hunting permit to kill dozens more.

There are copies of Groenewald’s hunting permits circulating via social media, and you can take a look at them here.

Regarding the sales contract, Groenewald’s deal is with another game rancher, already tied to a professional hunter who was twice arrested for involvement with Vietnamese “psuedo-hunts.”

(For more about the “pseudo-hunts”, see Mules Hunting Rhinos? Sinister Scam Unfolds in South Africa.)

Groenewald with rhinos again? What next – pedophiles teaching preschool?

Thai rhino horn trader busted

South Africa’s elite Hawks arrested Chumlong Lemtongthai, a Thai national who had been using legal trophy hunts as a cover for acquiring rhino horn, which he sent abroad for illegal use in traditional Chinese medicine.

Lemtongthai arrived in South Africa about a month ago carrying an “order for 50 sets of rhino horn”.

Apparently, Lemongthai had been arranging rhino hunting expeditions for the purpose of buying the horns from the hunters.

Five Thai “hunters” were also arrested.

Lemongthai’s “hunting party” is believed to have already killed five rhinos in the North West Province.

However, the identity of the South African trophy hunt outfitters who aided Lemongthai’s scam has not yet been revealed.

Note: The heinous crimes perpetrated by Lemongthai and Groenewald would not have been possible without South Africa’s legal trade laws, which allow for trade in live rhinos and trophy hunt exports. To find out more about how rhino horn syndicates abuse these trade loopholes, check out Concern Grows Around South Africa’s Legal Trade in Live Rhinos.

Caught in Kathmandu

Seven (!) rhino horn smugglers were busted in Nepal’s capital city by the Central Investigation Bureau.

The gang was identified as Dipak Bahadur Hamal, Dil Bahadur, Lor Bahadur Gurung, Bhim Bahadur Bishwokarma, Ramesh Hamal, Dinesh Adhikari (“Chari”), and Narayan Shrestha.

Two of the suspects, Dinesh Adhikari (“Chari”) and Dipak Bahadur Hamal, are believed to have political ties.

What you can do

Help raise awareness about the rhino crisis. You can take the first step by sharing this article – and asking others to do the same.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

Learn more about the rhino crisis:

Image #1 & #3 © iStockphoto.com; image #2 © Saving Rhinos LLC; #4 Wikimedia Commons

2 thoughts on “Rhino Crisis Round Up: Busts Galore, Museum Heists & Groenewald Back in Business”

  1. You can also sign Africa Geographic’s “Stop Killing Rhinos” Petition.

    The Vietnamese use rhino horn in traditional medicine – which is driving the trade in and illegal killing of South Africa’s rhinos. The Vietnamese government needs to launch awareness campaigns to educate their citizens about the impact of this trade on rhino populations and about the fact that rhino horn has no healing properties whatsoever. The aim is to destroy the market for the horn and, with it, the incentive to poach.

    You can sign the petition here: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/africa-geographics-stop-killing-rhinos-petition/

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