NORTH WEST – Eight suspects, including farmers, were arrested on Sunday in South Africa for the alleged illegal possession of game products that ranged from lion bones and meat to tiger’s skin in what has been described as South Africa’s “dirty & shameful predator bone smuggling racket”… which had allegedly been ongoing for years, under the watch of “dodgy conservation officials”.
The suspects were aged between 22 and 60, and reportedly included Vietnamese nationals and two South Africans, of which one is a 22-year-old white male who – according to News24 – is employed by a Vietnamese-owned hunting lodge.
Blood Lions said:
A Vietnamese syndicate and South African farmers are operating in the North West province of South Africa. At least 30 lions have been illegally killed in the past week. Arrests have been made with court appearances due this week.
The actual number of lions killed over the weekend has been updated to 40 – 30 were apparently slaughtered on Saturday at the farm, while a further 10 had been killed the previous day. (In April Blood Lions reported on the countless lions being killed in South Africa for the lion bone trade.)
According to the South African Police Service (SAPS) the suspects are due to make their first court appearance on Tuesday at the Klerksdorp Magistrate’s Court.
SAPS said they will face charges of illegal possession of game products and without a permit, carrying out restricted activities involving a specimen of a listed, threatened or protected species.
The arrests followed an intelligence-driven operation headed by the Hawks’ NW Serious Organised Crime Unit and assisted by Crime intelligence, Klerksdorp TRT, Potchefstroom flying squad and the Department of Nature Conservation.
SAPS said the arrests came on Sunday after the investigative team intercepted two vehicles at the intersection of N12 and Dominionville. The vehicles were driving in a convoy headed to an unused farm in Mareetsane.
During a search of both vehicles the team recovered lion bones, lion meat, a tiger skin, gas cylinders, gas burners, containers, a saw, knives and other equipment which is believed to have been used to process the lion bones, said SAPS.
The Vietnamese syndicate has apparently been operating for years in “South Africa’s dirty & shameful predator bone smuggling racket”, alleges Save the Beasts Stop the Slaughter.
News 24 journalist Simon Bloch pasted a link on Blood Lion’s post to a post on Save the Beasts’ timeline, in which the Page claims:
Protected by dodgy conservation officials, this Vietnamese syndicate operated with impunity for years – until environment minister Edna Molewa passed away on World Rhino Day. Things appear to have changed after that……………..
During Molewa’s tenure at the Environmental Department, conservationists regularly accused her of having “blood on her hands” for not putting an effective halt to the relentless poaching of South Africa’s wildlife. When Molewa passed away in September, after a short illness which she reportedly picked up during a trip to China, there were some insider rumours that she had been poisoned by a member of a poaching syndicate in China, unhappy with her tougher anti-poaching stance that had seen rhino poaching figures decline in the Kruger National Park. Those close to Molewa have steadfastly defended her as having worked tirelessly to put a stop to poaching.