Rhino Crisis Round Up: South Africa Death Toll at 150 & More

The latest figures released by the South African Government Department of Environmental Affairs are grim: 150 rhinos have been slaughtered since the beginning of 2012.

According the statement, more than half (87) of the rhinos were killed in South Africa’s famed Kruger National Park, and 90 people have been arrested for rhino-related crimes during the same time period.

Another accomplice nabbed

South African authorities arrested a Thai national identified as Tool Sriton, who is believed to be linked to the trophy hunt scam involving Marnus Steyl, Chumlong Lemtongthai, and Punpitak Chunchom.

As part of the scheme, young women (allegedly “sex workers”) from Thailand were reportedly trafficked into South Africa to pose as “rhino hunters” on Steyl’s property.

Like many of South Africa’s “game industry white guys” arrested for (allegedly) laundering rhino horn for the illegal market, Steyl is out on R100, 000 bail (US $13,008).

Meanwhile, Thai citizens Lemtongthai and Chunchom are currently in prison awaiting their June court appearance.

South Africa’s Eyewitness News reports that Sriton is expected to apply for bail on April 12th.

Unsavory details

Unsavory details have emerged regarding another South African game farmer apparently hoping to evade justice for rhino crimes: Evert Potgeiter.

IOL notes that Potgeiter — arrested for the “planning and foiled poaching of 10 rhino at Mkuze Falls Private Game Reserve” — has a violent criminal history spanning eleven years.

Potgieter had a string of convictions since 2001 including attempted murder, stock theft, assault and hunting of game.

For all of these convictions he received suspended sentences.

Police found marijuana plants, unlicensed firearms, and a poison called Temic at Potgeiter’s residence.

[Temic] is used by criminals to poison water holes to kill rhinos and predators such as lions. It is also used to poison guard dogs. A packet containing meatballs with Temic in it was recovered in Potgieter’s vehicle on the day of his arrest.

Potgeiter’s alleged accomplices in the rhino-killing scheme include Newcastle farmer Riaan Vermaak, Philomon Mbatha, Dumisane Sithole, and Nkosinathi Sithole.

Rhinestone rhino

On a much more festive note, the entrance to the Birmingham Gay Village in Southside will soon be marked with an iconic art installation: A rhinestone-encrusted rhino.

Photos of the rhino’s construction can be seen on the Making the Rhino blog.

Mockups of the finished project are posted on the Rhino of Birmingham Facebook page.

It is hoped that the rhino will be completed by June 2ndBirmingham Pride.


Photos: White rhino with calf via Shutterstock; black rhino isolated on black via Shutterstock. Chart: Saving Rhinos

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