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Free State game farmer appears with rhino accused

Publish date: 15 November 2011
Issue Number: 238
Diary: Legalbrief Environmental
Category: Conservation

A Free State game farm owner has appeared in the Kempton Park Magistrate's Court alongside two men accused of exporting rhino horns from SA.

A report in The Times notes that Marnus Steyl was granted R100 000 bail last Tuesday ahead of the trial in June. Thai nationals Punpitak Chunchom and Chumlong Lemthongthai were ordered to remain in custody in separate prisons, according to the report which says Steyl's farm was allegedly used by a syndicate to hunt rhinos, with Thai prostitutes and strippers posing as bogus rhino hunters. The report notes Chunchom was arrested at OR Tambo International Airport two weeks ago after the Hawks suspected he may have to return to engage in illicit activities. An SA court found him guilty last year of smuggling animal products like lion bones into the country. He was fined R10 000. Both he and Lemthongthai face charges of contravening the Customs and Excise Act, and fraud, according to the report which says it was believed 26 rhinos may have been shot by the syndicate using legal hunting permits. Full report in The Times Customs and Excise Act

Almost 10 tons of anti-poaching equipment has been handed over to field rangers in the Kruger National Park to help them fight international rhino horn syndicates, reports The Mercury. It notes the equipment, worth about R1.75m, includes backpacks, compasses, camouflage equipment, first-aid kits, tents and a variety of other field equipment. The equipment was handed to park authorities earlier this month by the SanParks Honorary Rangers organisation, a group of volunteers dedicated to supporting conservation. The Kruger Park is where most of SA's rhinos have been slaughtered over the past two years, says the report which notes that this year alone, more than 196 rhinos have been lost to horn poachers inside the country's premier wildlife reserve. Full report in The Mercury (subscription needed)