Thursday, September 23, 2010

Police Arrest Eleven Suspected of Rhino Poaching; Suspects Granted Bail

White rhinoceros mother and calf

The South African police had arrested eleven people suspected of having links to the ongoing mass poaching of rhinos in the nation. The suspects included a game farmer named Dawie Groenewald and his wife Sariette. Even more shocking was that the other suspects included veterinarians Karel Toet, and his colleague Manie du Plessis. All eleven suspects have recently been granted bail in the Musina Magistrate's Court. It was stated that the suspects' families had written checks to values of thousands of rand for their bail before they were scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday. The case has been postponed until April 11 next year. This has caused grave concern to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), fearing that the accused might flee the country. According to Joseph Okori, head of the WWF's African Rhino Program, it is an extremely long lag of time and that the suspects might have resources to jump bail. He has known from past experience in Zimbabwe where poachers have been known to skip bail. In addition to that, the Democratic Alliance (DA) has urged prosecutors to seek maximum sentences for the eleven suspects until their next appearance. The wildlife monitoring group TRAFFIC estimates that South Africa and its northern neighbor Zimbabwe are responsible for 95% of illegal poaching.

I feel the same worries as the World Wildlife Fund towards the fate of these eleven suspects. Even though they are only suspected of having connection to this massive onslaught of South Africa's rhinos, I'm afraid of what they might do later before their next court appearance. I just hope that South Africa's authorities will do whatever they can with collaboration from the WWF and other wildlife organizations to further tighten the security for the nation's wildlife as a way to prevent any further destruction. I also hope that South Africa and Zimbabwe will somehow work together in a similar manner as Kenya and Tanzania in further reducing the amount of poaching that has been ravaging the land and the wildlife of the two neighbors.

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