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By Editorial staff

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More than harsh sentences needed

Even as we praise this harsh sentence and encourage further antipoaching operations, we should also not forget that, without a demand, there would be no poaching.


The sound you hear in the background is cheering… as animal rights activists, conservationists and anticrime supporters celebrate what is being said to have been one of the harshest sentences yet handed down in a pangolin poaching case. The Pretoria Magistrate’s Court this week hit Orateng Mekwe with a 10-year direct imprisonment term without an option of a fine. His co-accused, Zimbabwean Jealous Rungano, was jailed for three years. Professor Rey Jansen, attached to the faculty of science at the Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria said: “It is a ground-breaking sentence. This sets a South African precedent, as well…

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The sound you hear in the background is cheering… as animal rights activists, conservationists and anticrime supporters celebrate what is being said to have been one of the harshest sentences yet handed down in a pangolin poaching case.

The Pretoria Magistrate’s Court this week hit Orateng Mekwe with a 10-year direct imprisonment term without an option of a fine. His co-accused, Zimbabwean Jealous Rungano, was jailed for three years.

Professor Rey Jansen, attached to the faculty of science at the Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria said: “It is a ground-breaking sentence. This sets a South African precedent, as well as an African continental precedent and we believe it to be global precedent.”

To which we would only add: it’s about time. The pangolin is one of the world’s most critically endangered animals. Pangolin scales are immensely prized for use in Asian medicine, as are the horns of rhino. Poachers must be hit hard.

Even as we praise this harsh sentence and encourage further antipoaching operations, we should also not forget that, without a demand, there would be no poaching.

Therefore, there needs to be an international campaign – equal part education and threats of trade sanctions – in those countries where the markets are.

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