News | South Africa | Crime
Six suspects suspected of being part of a pangolin poaching syndicate will appear in the Midrand Magistrate’s Court today after they were caught red-handed with a captured animal earlier this week.
On Wednesday, a sting operation lead by the Hawks’ wildlife trafficking team and the Pretoria-based national intervention unit, along with Pangolin Africa, which is attached to the University of Pretoria, and Midrand detectives resulted in the arrest of six suspects at Kyalami Corner.
Professor Ray Jansen, the founder of Pangolin Africa, said this was the fourth pangolin bust this year.
“The first was in Kempton Park at beginning of the year and the other two were in the Northern Cape, one in Upington and one in Kimberley.”
Jansen said the female pangolin rescued this week was underweight.
“She weighed in at 8.3kg when she should weigh about 10.5kg.”
He added that it would be difficult to rehabilitate the pangolin because she was very old.
“She has to be over 10 years old, perhaps even 12 years old.”
“One of her scales has been torn off her body which has left her with a big wound.”
Pangolin scales are used in traditional and cultural medicines.
“It may also be the scale was removed as proof of being in possession of the animal.
“She is in a really bad condition and currently at the Kyalami Main Veterinary Clinic, where she was placed on a trip and is receiving medication.”
Jansen said pangolins suffer from post-traumatic stress after being rescued from the illegal trade.
“They suffer not only physically, but also emotionally and mentally.”
In October 2019, Jansen and his team rescued a pangolin outside the Kolonnade shopping centre and named him Zambezi.
Under Jansen’s watchful eye, Zambezi recovered and was released back into a 40 000 hectare reserve in northern KwaZulu-Natal after a month.
Captain Lloyd Ramovha from the Hawks said they pounced on a syndicate member looking for a buyer for the pangolin on Wednesday.
Ramovha said various exhibits were seized from the suspects for investigation, including a Toyota Fortuner, a Mini Cooper, cellphones and the live pangolin.
“The group is still being processed and charges of dealing and possession of pangolin in contravention of the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act are being proferred against them.”
The Act provides the framework, norms and standards for the conservation, sustainable use and equitable benefit sharing of SAs biological resources.
Last month, four men were sentenced to eight years’ direct imprisonment after they were caught with a pangolin in October.
Captain Ndivhuwo Mulamu said the four foreign nationals were arrested in a sting operation at Flamingo shopping centre in Boksburg North by the Hawks in October.
“An operation was conducted where the accused met with the potential buyer.”
Mashoko Manhondo, 43, Joseph Masava, 33, Jeffrey Ruzvidzo, 29, and Hebert Dzingai, 24, were sentenced to eight years’ direct imprisonment each for illegal dealing and possession of a pangolin by the Boksburg Magistrate’s Court on 18 February.
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