Cape Town, 10 July 2019 – Vietnamese nationals arrested at the end of 2018, on various charges relating to the slaughter of lions, have been ordered to leave South Africa at the end of June. It was reported that 40 lions were killed for their bones and other body parts.
Nine people appeared in court in November 2018 on charges ranging from being in possession of illegal game products and without a permit, and carrying out restricted activities involving specimens of a listed, threatened or protected species.
Four foreign nationals were sentenced with fines ranging from R8000 to R50 000 – which have been paid in the meanwhile. The charges against two of the co-accused have been dropped.
“This again shows the lack of a proper deterrent to prevent the occurrence of these atrocious actions. Although found guilty, this practice will continue to flourish. The sentencing was a mere slap on the wrist and lacks the impact of preventing this to happen again. South Africa has reached the point where a serious intervention needs to take place to protect these animals against the severe cruelty they face.”
Fiona Miles, director of FOUR PAWS in South Africa
According to the Hawks, the accused were intercepted at the intersection of the N12 and Dominionville, driving in a convoy headed to an unused farm in Mareetsane. During the search of two vehicles, the Hawks 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.
The three South Africans charged in the same case, will appear in the Klerksdorp Magistrate’s court on 23 July.
Today, 32 South African and international conservation, welfare and advocacy organisations have written to the National Director of Public Prosecutions, Advocate Shamila Bathohi, of which Four Paws is a signatory. “We believe that the weak penalties and poor legal enforcement have made wildlife crime a lucrative and low-risk activity in South Africa for criminal syndicates,” says Miles.
“Collectively, we believe there is a need to among others raise and enforce the penalties for wildlife crime, establish specialist wildlife criminal courts staffed by highly skilled wildlife criminal prosecutors and magistrates, and provide specialized training for prosecutors, especially in magisterial areas in close proximity to key national provincial game reserves,” Miles concludes.
FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org.za