Killing for Profit

Discussion in 'News & Announcements' started by Jumbo, Jan 14, 2013.

  1. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    click on image to enlarge
    [​IMG]

    I was sent this picture by a member.
    A scan from the above noted book KILLING FOR PROFIT. Author: Julian Rademeyer

    This puts a face to the name at least.

    A link to Africa Geographic with the same photo referenced.
    Punpitak Chunchom and hunting outfitter Juan Pace with a pile of money that is believed to have been payment for the first rhinos that the Xaysavang syndicate shot | Africa Geographic Magazine Blog

    Google search to cross reference. Behold a clip from Youtube for Shangwari Safaris.
    You decide if it is the same face as printed in the book.

    [​IMG]



     

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  2. TOM

    TOM AH Elite

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    Africa...are there other continents to hunt?
    Thats terrifying. I would think banning a member might be appropriate here...
     
  3. Jumbo

    Jumbo AH Veteran

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    As I said, sure begs a few pointed questions!
     
  4. Dave Freeburn

    Dave Freeburn New Member

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    Just found out that another 3 Rhino were poached over the weekend. That makes it 11 for the year!
     
  5. bluey

    bluey GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    thats about enough to make you sick in the guts ,its not going to stop until theyre all gone is it ?
    oi jumbo you should ask some of these tricky questions mate ..,,,
     
  6. spike.t

    spike.t GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    :biggrin2::beer: cant remember if you said you were going to reno.

    if they put poachers on quota i could sell more hunts for those pieces of sh-t than normal animals, as the people i know that dont like hunting have told me they would love to shoot poachers. one way of those turds paying back something with the fees from them being hunted....:heh:
     
  7. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    I ran into an anti poaching crew in Hluhluwe-Umfolozi. I made sure I backed up as they crossed a road and said thanks for the hard work.
    Thankless bloody job with people wanting to kill you all the time.

    I would like to go out with one of these crews/squads one day.
    Perhaps some quota is available in Kruger.
     
  8. Dave Freeburn

    Dave Freeburn New Member

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    Unfortunately I wont be going to Reno after the decision in Zambia!
     
  9. spike.t

    spike.t GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    always come and drink like the others will be !!!!
     
  10. Dave Freeburn

    Dave Freeburn New Member

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    After this weekends poaching incidents were 39 rhino down for 2013!!!
     
  11. Bobpuckett

    Bobpuckett GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Damn there has got to be a way to stop these people with the money thats buying these horns.
     
  12. spike.t

    spike.t GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    dave how are the authorities about you shooting these things when/if you catch them on your property?
     
  13. DOC-404

    DOC-404 AH Elite

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    ..what authorities..? half the time the bastard scumbags ARE the 'authorities'..! :banghead:
     
  14. adgunner

    adgunner SILVER SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    Docman, couldn't agree more, i have been on a few anti-poaching /anti-armed groups in the DRC and when every local you pass picks up a cell phone to call the bad guys, makes our job pretty tough, especially when the authorities have already tipped them off ... each time we go out the only thing you think about is where is the next ambush site!
     
  15. Dave Freeburn

    Dave Freeburn New Member

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    I am waiting for the first private rhino owner to shoot a poacher and then we will see what the authorities do about it. Most likely take the poachers side. The SA army has killed quite a few in the Kruger!
    Just a correction on the on the numbers - SA parks mad a mistake on there numbers as some of the 39 were poached in Dec 2012. As of today the number is 33.
     
  16. Dave Freeburn

    Dave Freeburn New Member

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    Some reading material for those interested.

    At R536,119 (or $60,000) per kilogram, it rivals the street value of cocaine, and is almost double the value of gold*. It has been carved into Arabian daggers; mounted on walls powdered and mixed into Asian traditional medicine, and - as recent trends suggest for Vietnam's rising young and restless - included in a cocktail potion as a revitalising tonic.

    Strange as it may sound, the magic ingredient is nothing more than agglutinated hair, crusted and sabre-like, perched atop the head of the second-largest land mammal in the world: the rhino. Since the 1970s, an estimated 90% of the world's rhino population has declined, affecting the five primary species. Asia's Javan, Sumatran and Indian rhino horns - ideal for grinding into powder form - would be utilised extensively for traditional medicine. The 1970s oil boom also triggered a vast interest in strong African horn, sourced primarily from Africa's black and white rhinos, for prestigious Yemen daggers.

    In 1977, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), listed all rhino species in Appendix I, prohibiting international trade in rhinos and their products. Even though demand began to diminish, the ban created a vigorous black market.

    At the time of the CITES ban, aerial mapping documented the existence of 50,000 African black rhinos. Today the number has dwindled to less than 5,000. Swaziland's 'rhino wars' of the 1980s destroyed 80% of the rhino population, a state of affairs reflected in Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, and Kenya.
    Though it is known that the average rhino horn can grow to weigh over 60 kg during its lifespan, poachers eager to make a quick buck targeted underresourced national parks and killed indiscriminately.

    Despite the ban, or perhaps compelled by it, rhino populations have continued the perilous decline: today, less than 50 Javan and 300 Sumatran rhinos remain in the wild.

    Yet thanks to the conservation efforts of the South African government and its private partners, 90% of the world's white rhino population - estimated at 18,600 - now enjoy a relatively secure future in that country.

    But poaching syndicates, responsible for the deaths of over 520 rhinos this year alone, threaten the species once more. Not so long ago, the South African courts sentenced Thai national, Chumlong Lemtongthai, to 40 years in prison when he was found guilty of over 50 criminal charges.

    But despite conservation efforts and sophisticated anti-poaching operations, can the tide in the slaughter of one of the world's most magnificent animal be stemmed?
    Some conservationists and private sector operators believe that in the face of the imminent catastrophe, fresh thinking on the war against poaching is needed. They want to legalise sustainable trade in 'farmed' rhino horn.
    Regulated hunting

    Hunting is big business in South Africa, especially where the 'big five' lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and buffalo are concerned. The broader industry employs an average of 70,000 people, including about 3,000 professional hunters, working with taxidermists, translocation specialists, wildlife veterinarians, and other professionals.
    While price lists are available for animals such as sable ($10,000), elands ($2,450) and giraffes ($3,600), endangered and 'dangerous' species are listed under Price on Request (POR), disclosed only to interested parties.

    Companies like African Sky Hunting set charges for hunting large-maned male lions at $45,000. Others like Hunt Africa Now (HAN) offer packages of $29,000 (10 days) for an elephant hosting 50 lbs of ivory 'per side'. But often, the most expensive item on HAN's list - similar to that of other companies - is the white rhino: five days, all inclusive, at $80,000 - marketed as a real discount. In fact, the usual price of a white 'trophy' rhino is well over $100,000.

    From 2008-2011, white rhino product sales generated over $35.5m, represented by one private auction company and two wildlife authorities. These sales are legalised on the basis of limited and regulated decorative 'trophy' hunting - an industry widely credited as having a positive influence on expansion, management and protection of wildlife.

    Rhino hunting is restricted to one hunt per hunter annually and the importing country must exhibit legislation sufficient to ensure "non-commercial personal effects".
    Yet through the manipulation of legal channels such as trophy hunting, Asian syndicates, chiefly Vietnamese, have tapped into a host of willing South African professionals, including hunters and vets to make fortunes.

    Lemtongthai - a middleman for these syndicates - 'rented' multiple identities from Vietnamese citizens, posing as legitimate trophy hunters. Yet there seem to be considerable contradictions in law: Lemtonthai's coaccused, including a hunter, game farmer and a vet, were not prosecuted. Even if they had been, they would not have been prevented from participating in the hunting industry.

    Since 1994, the post-apartheid South African government has given the green light for sustainable use of white rhinos. But, as listed in CITES Appendix II, the use of white rhinos is limited to safe trade (example, national parks in other countries), or trophy hunting - totalling just 1,300 animals. Under the law, the only person able to legitimately acquire the trophy is the actual hunter. No other activities or purposes, including medicinal uses, or 'gifting' to another, are allowed.

    Targeted illegal poaching in South Africa first became evident in 2008, with three provinces - Limpopo, KwaZulu Natal and the North West - documenting 75% of illegal activities during the past five years. This coincided with the closing of a 'standing permit' loophole in 2008, which had allowed hunters to access CITES export permit applications, whether bona fide hunts took place or not.

    Analysts from TRAFFIC, a wildlife monitoring network, allege that if poaching continues to increase at an average of more than 20% annually, rhino deaths will soon overtake births, accelerating the decline in South Africa. To date, poaching has been largely centred in the Kruger National Park (KNP), holding 50% of the country's total rhino population, in a protected area of 20,000km 2 . In 2012, an estimated 60% of illegal poaching occurred in KNP, despite the deployment of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).

    But internal problems, including a strike in early May, involving 248 field rangers citing salary disparities, may indicate that conservation is an expensive business and not as simple as it seems.

    Farming Demand

    Between 1970 and 1987, over 100 tonnes of rhino horn was traded internationally - almost a decade after the 1977 CITES ban. The chief driver of demand is the myth that rhino horn has valuable properties in traditional medicines. Surveys by TRAFFIC, for example, reveal that almost 80% of traditional medicines in South Korea's capital city Seoul contain rhino horn. International pressure on China - the largest producer of traditional medicines - following the near extinction of Asian rhinos, resulted in drastically reduced demand.

    "Rhino conservation in South Africa dates back 117 years when the species was brought back from the brink of extinction," Dr Bandile Mkhize, CEO of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, a conservation organisation, said to African Business. "Since then, a combination of best practice, more land for rhino conservation and protection strategies are responsible for the large population that we enjoy today." The core of Mkhize's stance includes legalisation of the trade in rhino horn.

    In anticipation of the South African contribution to CITES in 2016, Mkhize, along with businessmen like John Hume, have lobbied the government, putting forward strategies to include regulated trade.

    Citing the current Ezemvelo budget at R3.3m ($372,000) - the price of eight black market horns - Mkhize claimes that in order to combat poaching, the budget would have to be increased considerably. But private actors such as Hume are betting on legalised trade. For example, 500 kg of shaved rhino horn, valued at $60,000 per kg, would earn $30m. Shaving involves scrapping off part of the horn without harming the animal.

    "We can supply a vast amount of rhino horn from South Africa," he says. "A single rhino has the potential to produce 60 kilograms of horn in its lifetime," he told African Business. Hume, who owns over 740 rhinos, is the largest rhino farmer in the world. Each year, he shaves off one kg of rhino horn, as a means of deterring poachers.
    "Rhino farming will encourage more people to breed rhinos, incentivise communities and emergent farmers to invest in rhinos; provide the necessary income for rhino protection and management; ease pressure off wild populations of rhino; and increase the overall rhino population," he says.

    However, Mavuso Msimang, the former head of SANParks, South Africa National Parks, and currently appointed 'rhino manager', is not so sanguine. He says not all actors are as innocent as they seem. Speakingto African Business, he questioned the motives of officials actively lobbying for legalised trade, before "arguments have been properly weighed and analysed."

    According to analyst Michael Eustace, who was involved in the South Africa study based on a controlled monopoly market of 800 horns, national parks could benefit to the tune of $67.6m annually, and private actors could earn $22.5m. Speaking to African Business, Eustace said prices must be kept as high $60,000 per kg to curb demand in order to create a sustainable market, and that horns could be derived from both stockpiles and natural deaths.

    "We don't know how much the demand is, but we do know that from the supply side, there have been 600 horns from poaching, and another few hundred from pseudo-hunts."

    He identified the increase in poaching as a domino effect of the government closing loopholes to pseudo-hunters like Lemtongthai. "Pseudo-hunting took pressure off animals in the wild. This year, when fake hunts were curbed, poachers picked up the slack.' He proposed a central selling organisation - in the De Beers model - that would produce DNAprofiled horns, sourced from national parks, and private suppliers. The latter hold about 25% of the rhino population. So, is the economics of rhino trade as sound as it sounds?

    "The horn that f inds its way into the black market is not DNA-profiled or microchipped," said Eustace, "so this way, the market would be highly regulated." But he backtracked when African Business confirmed DNA profiling as a standard already used for trophy hunting. "Policing trophies is very difficult," he admitted, and demandside importers "may not be committed, due to their use of rhino for medical ailments. We don't really know where they go".

    When asked whether demand would explode if countries like China lifted the ban, he conceded that while supply-side rhino horn factors were known, demand-side factors, including increased demand were "not known, but will be controlled by high prices".
    Eustace is confident that "poaching will no longer be lucrative - black market horn would lose 30% of value on the black market," he said. But would the black market, bearing a vastly discounted selling price, increase in scale and value, given increased demand? Moreover, what would become of vulnerable rhinos outside South Africa, when increased demand far exceeds the CSO quota? He did not comment.

    Hunting poachers

    Whether or not the legal rhino trade is approved, the forensic system cited by conservationists and hopeful traders alike is critical to the future of rhino regulation. RhODIS (or the Rhino DNA Index System), provides a central secured database for rhino DNA, facilitating traceability of individual rhinos and rhino horns unique to each animal.

    This is accomplished by darting a rhino with a small dose of anaesthetic (about 3ml), and tracking it - running at 35 km an hour from vehicles as the anaesthetic takes effect - an average of eight minutes. Once it is down, horn shavings, hair samples from the tail and blood samples are taken, in addition to the quick and easy micro-chipping process.

    "DNA cannot be removed, changed or destroyed," states Dr Cindy Harper, from the University of Pretoria's Faculty of Veterinary Science, Ondesterpoort. In an interview with African Business, Harper listed the cost of DNA profiling at R350 ($40) per animal, micro-chipping at less than $33, and a sample kit at $11. The overall costs of the procedure, estimated by one vet to African Business, including darting the animal, vet fees, use of helicopter and spotter cars, was around $1,000 more, with a slight increase for black rhinos hiding in dense bush.

    "The DNA profiling is a complex test and must be done in an authorised laboratory that has people trained to perform this test and specific skills to do it. It cannot be done in the field. However, people can be trained to collect the samples for the DNA testing," Harper says. These skills, she adds, were being transferred to Kenyan scientists this year. "Data needs to be standardised to be comparable."

    The system, says Harper, is primarily a forensic tool to assist with poaching investigations, linking horns to poachers, traffickers and consumer countries. But uses also included identifying stockpiled horns, aiding investigations, returning recovered horns to owners - as well as managing the type of legal sale proposed by businessmen like Hume.

    "As scientists we provide the tools to make the management of a legal trade system possible and that is what RhODIS provides. The outcome of legal trade has not been tested as a potential solution in controlling rhino poaching - yet other current solutions do not appear to be changing the poaching trend," she says.

    Presently, RhODIS maintains the single database of rhino DNA at the University's Veterinary Genetics Laboratory, gathering 5,000 data-points within a year, by seeking profiles from a variety of horns. This includes recovered and stockpiled collections, private, national and provincial parks, poaching cases, as well as from neighbouring countries such as Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana.

    For private owners and national parks alike, RhoDis increasingly acts as a shared 'Who's Who' register of the world's largest rhino population. Patrons such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu and companies like SABMiller have set the goal registering all 18,000 rhinos on the database.

    Though it makes good business sense to regulate the trade, a legal market may generate competition with poachers, and an explosion in demand. As Hume stated, "conservation costs money. Someone needs to pay for it." The question is who? N
    $67.6m

    According to a South African study, based on a controlled monopoly market of 800 horns, national parks could benefit to the tune of $67.6m annually, and private actors could earn $22.5m $80,000 Hunting white rhino: five days, all inclusive, at $80,000 - marketed as a real discount. In fact, the usual price of a white 'trophy' rhino is well over $100,000 'Rhino farming will encourage more people to breed rhinos, incentivise communities and emergent farmers to invest in rhinos; and provide the necessary income for rhino protection and management' - John Hume
     
  17. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Another perspective that the price of Cocaine does not illustrate in the current environment.

    Statistics South Africa released "Monthly Earnings by South Africans" 2010

    The Top 5% Black African R 12,567
    The Bottom 5% Black African R 500
    Median Income R 2,167

    If the poorest poacher managed to get 1% of the value of 1Kg for the effort of poaching a Rhino.
    That would equate to 10.7 MONTHS of Salary


    Assume 4kg average for A White Rhino. R 2,144,476 (at the stated rates)

    If the poorest poacher managed to get 1% of the value of 4Kg for the effort.
    That equates to 42.8 Months salary.

    Pretty scary return for a nights work.
     
  18. spike.t

    spike.t GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    docman we pay for zawa to come and do patrols, as these days i think we would get too much shit if we shot them ourselves. they clapped 2 last year on ours, but as you know the memories of these things isnt too good so they are back after a few weeks. this is only for meat so i would hate to have to worry about having rhino to look after!!!!
     
  19. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    I sincerely hope the US manages to grab these guys and put them in the poor house.


    Department of Justice
    Office of Public Affairs
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    Thursday, October 23, 2014
    Owners of Safari Company Indicted for Illegal Rhino Hunts
    The owners of Out of Africa Adventurous Safaris were charged with conspiracy to sell illegal rhinoceros hunts in South Africa in order to defraud American hunters, money laundering and secretly trafficking in rhino horns, announced Sam Hirsch Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division; George L. Beck, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama; and Dan Ashe, Director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The indictment was unsealed today in Montgomery, Alabama following the federal indictment.

    The indictment charges Dawie Groenewald, 46, and his brother, Janneman Groenewald, 44, both South African nationals, and their company Valinor Trading CC (d/b/a Out of Africa Adventurous Safaris) with conspiracy, Lacey Act violations, mail fraud, money laundering and structuring bank deposits to avoid reporting requirements. The Lacey Act, the nation’s oldest criminal statute addressing illegal poaching and wildlife trafficking, makes it a crime to sell animal hunts conducted in violation of state, federal, tribal and foreign law.

    According to the 18-count indictment, from 2005 to 2010, the Groenewald brothers traveled throughout the United States to attend hunting conventions and gun shows where they sold outfitting services and accommodations to American hunters to be conducted at their ranch in Mussina, South Africa. During the time period covered by the indictment, Janneman Groenewald lived in Autauga County, Alabama, where Out of Africa maintained bank accounts and is accused of money laundering and structuring deposits to avoid federal reporting requirements. Hunters paid between $3,500 and $15,000 for the illegal rhino hunts.

    The defendants are charged with selling illegal rhino hunts by misleading American hunters. The hunters were told the lie that a particular rhino had to be killed because it was a “problem rhino.” Therefore, while no trophy could be legally exported, the hunters could nonetheless shoot the rhino, pose for a picture with the dead animal, and make record book entries, all at a reduced price. Meanwhile, the defendants are alleged to have failed to obtain necessary permits required by South Africa and cut the horns off some of the rhinos with chainsaws and knives.

    The indictment alleges that the defendants then sold the rhino horn on the black market. Eleven illegal hunts are detailed in the papers filed in federal court, including one in which the rhino had to be shot and killed after being repeatedly wounded by a bow, and another in which Dawie Groenewald used a chainsaw to remove the horn from a sedated rhino that had been hunted with a tranquilizer gun. The American hunters have not been charged.

    “We are literally fighting for the survival of a species today. In that fight, we will do all we can to prosecute those who traffic in rhino horns and sell rhino hunts to Americans in violation of foreign law,” said Sam Hirsch, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division. “This case should send a warning shot to outfitters and hunters that the sale of illegal hunts in the U.S. will be vigorously prosecuted regardless of where the hunt takes place.”

    “These defendants tricked, lied and defrauded American citizens in order to profit from these illegal rhinoceros hunts,” stated U.S. Attorney Beck. “Not only did they break South African laws, but they laundered their ill-gotten gains through our banks here in Alabama. We will not allow United States’ citizens to be used as a tool to destroy a species that is virtually harmless to people or other animals.”

    “The fact that defendants used American hunters to execute this scheme is appalling - but not as appalling as the brutal tactics they employed to kill eleven critically endangered wild rhinos,” said FWS Director Ashe. “South Africa has worked extraordinarily hard to protect its wild rhino population, using trophy hunts as a key management tool. The illegal ‘hunts’ perpetrated by these criminals undermine that work and the reputation of responsible hunters everywhere.”

    Rhinoceros are an herbivore species of prehistoric origin and one of the largest remaining mega-fauna on earth. Adult rhinoceros have no known natural predators. All species of rhinoceros are protected under United States and international law. Since 1976, trade in rhinoceros horn has been regulated under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a treaty signed by over 170 countries around the world to protect fish, wildlife and plants that are or may become imperiled due to the demands of international markets. Nevertheless, the demand for rhinoceros horn and black market prices have skyrocketed in recent years due to the value that some cultures have placed on ornamental carvings, good luck charms or alleged medicinal purposes, leading to a decimation of the global rhinoceros population. Like hair or finger nails, rhino horn is actually composed of keratin and has no proven medical efficacy. As a result, rhino populations have declined by more than 90 percent since 1970. South Africa, for example, has witnessed a rapid escalation in poaching of live animals, rising from 13 in 2007 to a record 1004 in 2013. Illegally killed rhinos like the ones charged in this prosecution are not included in the published statistics of poached animals.

    An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

    The investigation of Out of Africa is part of Operation Crash (named for the term “crash” which describes a herd of rhinoceros), an ongoing nation-wide effort to detect, deter and prosecute those engaged in the illegal killing of rhinoceros and the unlawful trafficking of rhinoceros horns led by the Special Investigations Unit of the Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement in coordination with the U.S. Department of Justice. Thus far there have been 26 arrests and 18 convictions with prison terms as high as 70 months. (See attached Crash Fact Sheet). Throughout the course of the investigation on the current charges, U.S. authorities received substantial cooperation from South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority and a specialized endangered species unit within the organized crime unit of the South African Police Service. That unit is known as the Hawks. Additional assistance has been provided in this case by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, in Montgomery, Alabama and the Autauga County, Alabama Sheriff’s Office. The Out of Africa case is being prosecuted in the Middle District of Alabama by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon K. Essig and by Richard A. Udell, Senior Litigation Counsel with the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. The Out of Africa investigation is continuing.

    The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided assistance.

    http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/owners-safari-company-indicted-illegal-rhino-hunts
     
  20. BRICKBURN

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    U.S. Indictment Accuses South African Brothers of Trafficking Rhino Horns
    Safari outfitters allegedly duped hunters into paying extra to illegally shoot rhinos.
    [​IMG]
    This horn was removed from a white rhino as a precautionary anti-poaching measure on a game farm in South Africa in 2011.

    PHOTOGRAPH BY BRENT STIRTON, GETTY IMAGES/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

    Laurel Neme

    for National Geographic

    PUBLISHED OCTOBER 23, 2014

    U.S. authorities today announced the indictment of the alleged kingpin of a South African rhino poaching and trafficking syndicate, Dawie Groenewald, and his brother, Janneman, and their company Out of Africa Adventurous Safaris on multiple charges, including conspiracy, money laundering, and wildlife crime.

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    The Groenewald brothers own and operate Out of Africa Adventurous Safaris, an outfitter that organizes and conducts trips in private hunting areas in Botswana, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, including at their 10,600-acre (4,300-hectare) game farm, Prachtig, about 40 miles (60 kilometers) south of the town of Musina, in South Africa's Limpopo Province.

    U.S. authorities will be seeking to extradite the brothers from South Africa.

    According to the 18-count indictment, between 2005 and 2010 the Groenewald brothers duped nine American hunters at their ranch intoillegally shooting rhinos.

    The brothers would then cut off the horns and sell them on the black market in Asia.

    The Groenewalds and their safari company solicited American hunters at large regional sportsmen's shows, including Safari Club Internationalconventions.

    They also donated hunts to local chapters of Safari Club International in Kansas City, Missouri, and a National Rifle Association convention in Louisville, Kentucky.

    They later offered hunters add-ons, such as the chance to shoot rhinos for additional fees (typically around $10,000). The outfitters said those rhinos were "problem" animals that were "dangerous" and "aggressive" and could be hunted legally. (Related: "Q&A: Can Airlifting Rhinos Out of South Africa Save the Species?")

    The Groenewalds said that although the hunters couldn't export a rhino's horn as a trophy, they could measure it and take photographs and videos of the hunt and of themselves posed with the dead animal, which could then be submitted to record books.

    The Groenewalds and Out of Africa also offered Americans the chance to conduct "green" hunts, when the hunter would shoot a rhinoceros with a tranquilizer gun and then pose for photographs with the sedated animal.

    The Groenewalds, however, never obtained the necessary permits, and they also concealed the fact that the hunts would be in violation of South African law.

    After photos were taken, the Groenewalds or their staff would cut off the horns with chainsaws or knives and sell the horns in Asia.

    In essence, they earned profit twice: once for the sale of the hunt and again when they trafficked the horns.

    [​IMG]
    Poachers shot this black rhino and hacked off its horn to sell on the black market. The animal survived and lives at the Save Valley Conservancy, in Zimbabwe.
    PHOTOGRAPH BRENT STIRTON, GETTY IMAGES/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

    Long Reach of U.S. Law

    "These defendants tricked, lied, and defrauded American citizens in order to profit from these illegal rhinoceros hunts," stated George Beck, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama.

    "Not only did they break South African laws, but they laundered their ill-gotten gains through our banks here in Alabama. We will not allow United States citizens to be used as a tool to destroy a species that is virtually harmless to people or other animals."

    The Groenewalds and Out of Africa are being charged under several U.S. laws, including the Lacey Act. The Lacey Act is a powerful legal tool that makes it a crime to knowingly sell in interstate and foreign commerce wildlife that was taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of foreign law. In this case, it refers to selling animal hunts that violated South African law. (Related: "For Rangers on the Front Lines of Anti-Poaching Wars, Daily Trauma.")

    "This case is intended to send a message to outfitters and professional hunters: The long reach of U.S. law will catch up to you if you involve our country and our hunters in criminal enterprises abroad," says Jean Williams, Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the U.S. Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "If you sell your illegal hunts here, you are subject to prosecution here, regardless of where the hunt takes place.

    "This case is also a cautionary tale for American hunters. As a consumer market, we have a special obligation to make sure that we are following the rules designed to protect both U.S. and foreign wildlife."

    Cooperation From South Africa

    During the investigation into this illegal hunting scheme, U.S. authorities received substantial cooperation from South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority and the specialized endangered species unit within the organized crime unit of the South African Police Service, known as the Hawks.

    "The fact that defendants used American hunters to execute this scheme is appalling—but not as appalling as the brutal tactics they employed to kill 11 critically endangered wild rhinos," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe.

    "South Africa has worked extraordinarily hard to protect its wild rhino population, using trophy hunts as a key management tool. The illegal hunts perpetrated by these criminals undermine that work and the reputation of responsible hunters everywhere."

    Groenewald Charged in South Africa

    Dawie Groenewald is the head of a rhino poaching and trafficking syndicate known in South Africa as the "Groenewald Gang" or "Musina Mafia." He was arrested in 2010 along with ten others, including his wife, veterinarians, and professional hunters. (Neither Janneman Groenewald nor Out of Africa Adventurous Safaris was included.)

    The South African indictment is 637 pages long and charges the group with 1,872 counts of illegal hunting, dealing in rhino horns, racketeering, money laundering, and fraud. (Related: "1,000+ Rhinos Poached in 2013: Highest in Modern History.")

    According to the book Killing for Profit, by Julien Rademeyer, Dawie Groenewald alone faces 1,736 counts that stem from his allegedly having illegally sold at least 384 rhino horns over a four-year period, having killed more than 39 of his own rhinos for their horns, and illegally dehorning more than 80 others.

    That case has dragged on for almost four years, with trials postponed several times. The most recent, set for July 2014, was postponed to August 4, 2015, to allow conclusion of a civil suit regarding the constitutionality of current regulations for endangered and protected species.

    The Groenewald group allegedly made about $6.8 million from the illegal sale of rhino horn.

    According to the affidavit submitted by South Africa Police Service Colonel Johan Jooste, Dawie Groenewald managed the syndicate from 2006 to September 2010 while the others helped in pseudo-hunts, translocating and dehorning rhinos, making false applications for permits, and selling the horn. (Related: "Why African Rhinos Are Facing a Crisis.")

    Groenewald Interviewed

    In an interview detailed in Killing for Profit, Dawie Groenewald expressed confidence that he will beat the South African case.

    "They [the South African prosecutors] will eventually come and say there has been a mistake on a permit here, or something wrong there, let's sort it all out. Let's make arrangements for a fine.

    "I am not a poacher," he told Rademeyer. "That word makes me sick. It is not necessary for me to poach a rhino.

    "I don't enjoy killing rhinos," he continued. "But I'm killing them because of the system. We are forced to shoot them because that is the only way the trophies can be sold and exported. You have to kill the animal to sell its horns."

    He went on to tell Rademeyer that he makes a lot of money from hunting, saying, "For me, to do these hunts is very good money. It isreally good money."

    Operation Crash

    The U.S. indictment is part of Operation Crash, an ongoing multiagency effort to detect, deter, and prosecute those engaged in the illegal killing of rhinos and the trafficking of their horns. The operation is led by the Special Investigations Unit of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement, in coordination with the U.S. Department of Justice.

    Operation Crash takes its name from the term "crash," which describes a herd of rhinos.

    So far, there have been 26 arrests and 18 convictions, with prison terms as long as 70 months. The indictments against the Groenewalds and their company are the first of Operation Crash that involve the direct killing of wild rhinos.

    Those convicted include Zhifei Li, the "boss" of three antique dealers who obtained and smuggled rhino horn out of the U.S. into China on his behalf; Qiang "Jeffrey" Wang, who smuggled Asian artifacts, including "libation cups" made from rhinoceros horn and ivory; and Michael Slattery, Jr., an Irish national who illegally trafficked rhino horn throughout the United States, and is alleged to belong to an organized criminal group engaged in rhino horn trafficking.

    As of October 14, 868 rhinos had been poached this year in South Africa alone.

    Yet the numbers are really far worse. Cases like the ones against Dawie and Janneman Groenewald and Out of Africa Adventurous Safaris are not included in those figures.

    "What we're seeing here is added to those awful statistics," Williams noted. "It's even larger than what's documented."

    In sentencing Zhifei Li in New Jersey, U.S. District Judge Esther Salas reflected on the seriousness of rhino horn trafficking charges.

    "The reality is there is a need to send a message to society, to those that deal in this market, this black market, that if you are apprehended, whether you are smuggling old rhinoceros horns, horns for black rhinoceros, or some white tusks from elephants, if you are doing this, and you are internationally exporting these materials, you are going to face severe and swift punishment."




    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/...-lacey-act-hawks-operation-crash-groenewalds/
     

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