[Press Release] Vision Tactical Units Assist In Nabbing Two Suspected Rhino Poachers
A sting operation involving Vision Tactical, the Hawks Serious Organised Crime Endangered Species Unit, Special Task force and Tracker SA landed two suspects behind bars after information surfaced that a vehicle from a coastal province was carrying a considerable number of rhino horn.
The South African Police Service (SAPS) said that the two suspects were arrested in the North West province, following a tip-off that a car was transporting rhino horns, police nabbed the suspects and discovered 180 rhino horns.
Police add that the rhino horns, worth a substantial amount of money, were destined for the Southeast Asian markets.
In China and Vietnam, the Rhino horn is advertised by some traditional medicine practitioners as a wonder ingredient.
The driving factor for rhino horn poachers is the price tag attached to the horn.
The business is a lucrative one, creating a transnational crime network that has decimated rhino populations in recent decades.
South Africa, which is home to about 80 percent of the world rhino population, has been hit the hardest.
In 2018, 769 rhinos were poached in South Africa alone while more than 7 100 animals have been killed over the past decade.
The case of the two men arrested for the alleged smuggling of 180 rhino horn, weighing a total of 150kg, has been postponed for a bail application in the Brits Magistrates Court.
Media Statement from Directorate of Priority Crimes Investigation (HAWKS)
South African Police ServicePRETORIA – Two suspects aged 57 and 61 will make their first appearance at the Brits Magistrate Court after they were intercepted with more than 167 rhino horns on Saturday in the North West.
An operation by the Hawks Serious Organised Crime Endangered Species Unit, Special Task force, Tracker SA and Vision Tactical landed the two suspects behind bars after information surfaced that a vehicle that from a coastal province was carrying a considerable number of rhino horns.
The vehicle was intercepted in the Hartebeespoortdam area where the 167 rhino horns worth a substantial amount of money were seized. The rhino horns were destined for the South East Asian markets.
Rigorous investigations on the two suspects as well as the value of the horns are still ongoing. Further details on the incident will be communicated in good time.
Media Enquiries: Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi – 082 373 2408
#sapsHQ Operation by Hawks, Special Task force, Tracker SA & Vision Tactical landed the 2 suspects behind bars after information surfaced that a vehicle that from a coastal province was carrying a considerable number of rhino horns. #RhinoPoaching TM
— SA Police Service (@SAPoliceService) April 14, 2019
Two due in court for illegal trafficking of rhino stockpile
Two suspects will make their first court appearance on Monday after they were intercepted with more than 167 rhino horns on Saturday, in a sting operation executed in the Hartbeespoort Dam area in North West.
“Markings on the horns including weights and registration numbers would suggest that they originated from a stockpile of some kind,” Julian Rademeyer, author of the book Killing for Profit: Exposing the Illegal Rhino Horn Trade, tweeted at the weekend.
An operation by the Hawks’ serious organised crime endangered species unit, Special Task Force, Tracker SA and Vision Tactical landed the two suspects behind bars after information surfaced that a vehicle from a coastal province was carrying a considerable number of rhino horns, said Hawks spokesman brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi.
The vehicle was intercepted. The 167 rhino horns were seized.
The suspects, aged 57 and 61, will be brought before the Brits Magistrate’s Court, where they are expected to be charged with rhino horn trafficking.
“Rigorous investigations on the two suspects as well as the value of the horns is still ongoing,” said Mulaudzi.
The rhino horns were destined for the South East Asian markets, the Hawks say.
This is the second major bust in the illegal rhino horn trade this month.
Hong Kong authorities said on April 6 that they had seized 82.5 kilograms of rhino horn and cut pieces after screening cargo from South Africa with Malaysia as its destination. The cargo was declared as “auto parts”.
Seizures by Hong Kong authorities earlier this year also netted 40 kilograms of rhino horns and more than 1,000 ivory tusks.
In June 2017, the SA government said it had developed an electronic database to register rhino horns in private and government-owned stockpiles, as well as all newly-acquired horns.
It has been legal to buy and sell rhino horn within South Africa since that same year, when the Private Rhino Owners Association won a court case against the Department of Environment Affairs’ trading ban on a legal technicality. But there is a global ban on trading rhino horn so it cannot be sold to markets where there is demand, such as Vietnam and China.