Two Rhinos Killed, Two More Wounded Near Klerksdorp in North West Province, South Africa


The rhino killing spree in South Africa continues.

Two white rhino bulls were reportedly found murdered at a game park near Klerksdorp over the weekend. The first was found on Saturday, and the other on Sunday; both rhinos had their horns hacked out.

A helicopter search of the area also discovered two female rhinos that had been shot, but they were still alive. However, one of the cows is badly injured, and likely to be put down.

The male rhino found on Saturday was a breeding bull, worth R1 million.

Courts fail to deter rhino horn syndicates

Although police continue to make arrests – four rhino killers were arrested two days ago – rhino horn syndicate cases lose steam once they hit the courts. There seems to be plenty of talk about cracking down on syndicates and taking out the kingpins, but so far, the courts have jailed only the lower level operatives.

In September, eleven alleged members of a rhino horn syndicate were granted bail by the Musina magistrate’s court and are scheduled to appear in court again on April 11th, 2011. The suspects included safari operator Dawie Groenewald, veterinarians Karel Toet and Manie du Plessis, and professional hunter Tielman Erasmus.

They will face charges of to face charges of assault, fraud, corruption, malicious damage to property, illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, and contravening the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act.

The following month, a rhino horn syndicate case involving suspects George Fletcher of Sandurst Safaris, Gert Saaiman of Saaiman Hunting Safaris, and Frans Deventer was thrown out by the North Gauteng High Court.

Multiple charges had been brought against Fletcher, Saaiman and van Deventer, including racketeering, money laundering, various counts of theft, malicious damage to property and contraventions of the various provincial Conservation Acts and the Aviation Act.

However, a few weeks ago, four Zimbabweans and a Mozambican were sentenced to prison for attempting to kill rhinos in Lephalale Game Reserve, Limpopo.

Illegal rhino horn trade driven by continued use of traditional ‘medicines’

In this year alone, the surge in rhino horn demand for use in traditional medicines has claimed the lives of more than 235 rhinos in South Africa; some estimates place the figure closer to 270.

Illegal rhino horn is in highly sought after for use in traditional medicines in China and Vietnam, despite the fact rhino horn has been extensively analyzed and contains no medicinal properties.

Research conducted by the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC found that most rhino horns leaving South Africa are being smuggled to China and Vietnam.

It has been noted that the spreading Chinese footprint has placed the demand for rhino horn perilously close to the supply, and counter poaching reports have also linked the increase in rhino and elephant killings to a flood of Chinese weapons in Southern Africa.

Source: Times Live. Sapa. “Two NWest Rhino Poached, Two Wounded – Times LIVE.” 14 Nov. 2010.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Rhishja Cota-Larson

I am the founder of Annamiticus, an educational nonprofit organization which provides news and information about wildlife crime and endangered species. I am the Editor of Rhino Horn is Not Medicine and Project Pangolin, author of the book Murder, Myths & Medicine, a writer for the environmental news blog Planetsave, the host of Behind the Schemes, and Producer for the upcoming documentary The Price. When I'm not blogging about the illegal wildlife trade, I enjoy gardening, reading, designing, and rocking out to live music.

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  1. I feel strongly that more should be done to stop the senseless killing of rhinos and the smuggling of rhino horns. I think there should be a heavier punishment on individuals who makes themselves guilty of the crime, and they definitely shouldn’t be given bail. I am really disappointed to see professional hunters and vets selling their souls for money.