Rhino Crisis Round Up: 'Groenewald Gang' Case Postponed (Again) & More

For the fourth time since their arrest in September 2010, South Africa’s high-profile rhino horn syndicate case involving game farmer and safari operator Dawie Groenewald — along with professional hunters and wildlife veterinarians — has been postponed.

The syndicate suspects (dubbed the “Groenewald gang”) are expected back in court on October 19th to face 1,872 charges ranging from illegal rhino hunting to racketeering, permit violations, illegal trade in rhino horn, money laundering, and violating the Biodiversity Act and the Act on the Prevention of Organised Crime.

Smuggling case postponed

Meanwhile, a Vietnamese man identified as That Thai Dung was arrested at South Africa’s OR Tambo International Airport with three rhino horns in his luggage.

His case was postponed until next month, according to IOL.com.

A bail application is expected.

‘Dubious agenda’

South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs announced last week that at least 181 rhinos have been killed in the country this year. Sources outside the media claim the figure is higher.

Exacerbating the tragic situation is South Africa’s “pro-trade syndicate”, which is attempting to use the country’s rhino crisis as a means to further a rather dubious agenda to “legalize” rhino horn trade.

Four smugglers arrested in Nepal

Nepal’s Central Investigation Bureau has successfully nabbed another gang of rhino horn traders and confiscated a rhino horn.

The Himalayan Times identified the suspects as Ram Bahadur Gurung and Keshav Bahadur Rokka of Dhading, Rudra Bahadur KC of Myagdi, and Krishna Bahadur Dhital of Gorkha.

This bust follows last week’s arrest of two rhino horn traffickers in Kathmandu.

Under Nepal’s National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1973, the suspects could face up to 15 years in prison, plus heavy fines, for killing and trading in endangered species.

Nepal has a history of administering serious punishments for rhino crimes. Court delays and postponements for rhino-related crimes are usually avoided because the cases are handled directly by the divisional forest office.

Suspects held in India

The Times of India reports that two suspects were arrested for involvement with a rhino killing attempt in Kaziranga National Park.

Authorities took Rupam Kutum and Manoj Pegu into custody earlier this week, and the duo is reportedly undergoing questioning.

Increased monitoring of Javan rhinos

Critically endangered Javan rhinos in Ujung Kulon National Park, Indonesia, will now be monitored by 160 video cameras.

The quadrupling of video camera traps in the park was made possible by the International Rhino Foundation (IRF) and WWF.

Thanks to information obtained from video camera traps in 2011, 35 rhinos — 22 males and 13 females — were identified.

Learn more about how you can help protect Javan rhinos by supporting Operation Javan Rhino, a global partnership led by International Rhino Foundation and Save the Rhino International.

Northern white rhinos

And finally, there is fantastic news from Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya: Northern white rhinos Suni and Najin have mated!

Suni, Najin, Fatu, and Sudan are four of the world’s only surviving Northern white rhinos — and the last hope for saving this unique subspecies, which consists of just seven individuals.

In December 2009, the “Fab Four” made the historic journey from the Czech Republic to Kenya, in hopes that a natural environment would encourage breeding behavior.

Here’s to making baby Northern white rhinos!

Three white rhinos via Shutterstock; greater one-horned rhino profile via Shutterstock; Northern white rhinos © Ol Pejeta Conservancy (used with permission).

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