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WWF wants maximum sentences for rhino poachers

Publish date: 29 January 2013
Issue Number: 295
Diary: Legalbrief Environmental
Category: Conservation

Co-ordinator at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Jo Shaw has called for the harshest possible sentences to be meted out to rhino poachers, says an SABC News report.

The environmental group has also expressed concern over rhino poaching. Shaw says the problem is negatively affecting the rhino population and the country's eco-system, according to the report which notes she says there is a need to translate arrests into charges. 'We need to see people given the highest and maximum sentences that they can get.' Meanwhile, the North West Environment, Conservation and Tourism Department has acknowledged that it is finding it difficult to assist private game reserves to combat escalating rhino poaching. Two rhinos were killed at Sable Game Reserve near Brits at the weekend, the report notes. Full SABC News report

Thirty-two rhino have been poached in SA since the beginning of the year, the Department of Environmental Affairs says. 'This brings to 18 the number of rhino poached in the Kruger National Park for their horns. Six rhino were poached in North West and five in KwaZulu-Natal since the start of the year,' a report on the IoL site quotes spokesperson Albi Modise as saying. Two rhinos were poached in Limpopo and one in Mpumalanga. 'The Kruger National Park figures includes carcasses of rhinos killed in 2012, but (which) were only discovered recently due to thick bush,' Modise said, according to the report. Modise said 13 people had been arrested in connection with rhino poaching this year. Full report on the IoL site

The case against two men accused of rhino poaching in the Kruger National Park was postponed in the White River Magistrate's Court yesterday (Monday), said the Hawks. A report on the IoL site notes that Captain Paul Ramaloko said the Mozambican nationals would remain in custody until their next appearance on 6 February. The men were caught by game rangers at the park on Saturday. A third man, who was with the pair, was shot dead by rangers when the suspected poachers apparently fired at them. Police confiscated a hunting rifle following the arrest, the report states. Full report on the IoL site

The unprecedented assault on SA's rhinos may be part of a deliberate strategy by wealthy foreign speculators to drive rhinos to extinction so they can reap windfall profits from selling horn stockpiles. A report on the IoL site notes that this is the surprising suggestion from a group of American and Dutch economists who compared the profitability of strategies to manipulate the supply of rhino horns to reap maximum financial returns. Economists Charles Mason, Erwin Bulte and Richard Horan suggest that stockpiling rhino horns and other commodities from rare and endangered wildlife species has become an increasingly attractive proposition for unscrupulous financial speculators, according to the report. In their paper, the researchers note that as wildlife commodities become increasingly rare the prices rise steadily, and once supplies run out, speculators who have hoarded rhino horns would enjoy a monopoly over prices. The report notes SA's Department of Environmental Affairs declined to comment officially on the suggestions made in the paper, although some conservation officials have previously expressed concern that stockpiling and speculation may be among factors driving the spike in rhino poaching. Full report on the IoL site Study: Banking on extinction - endangered species and speculation