NEWS WRAP: Canned hunter convicted + escaped Kruger lion captured

In this week’s news wrap a South African canned hunter was successfully convicted; a male lion was darted and captured after presumably escaping the Kruger; two men suspected of being kingpins in a rhino poaching syndicate were arrested; the Zambian government has denied reports that it has authorised the culling of 2,000 hippos in the Luangwa Valley; and the population of mountain gorillas, one of the world’s most endangered species, is on the rise after a population survey was performed in the transboundary Virunga Massif.

South African canned hunter successfully convicted (full story: AG News Desk)
captive bred lions, stock photo

Stock photo of captive bred lions. Source: Blood Lions

Blood Lions, whose mission is to bring an end to canned hunting and the exploitative breeding of lions and other predators on farms across South Africa, released the following statement yesterday, 5th June, regarding the conviction of a South African canned hunter:

Deon Cilliers, a Free State province Professional Hunter, taxidermist and owner of Hunters Safari, pleaded guilty to 45 counts of contravening the Biodiversity and Conservation Acts in the Ladybrand court yesterday (4th June).

Included in his plea was the illegal hunting of 39 captive bred lions; the keeping of 8 caracals without permits and the importation and release of 9 scimitar oryx – an exotic species.

Most of Cilliers’ hunting clients came from the United States of America and Poland. The majority of the hunts were held on Bellevue Farm, Excelsior district in the Free State without the required permits.

Blood Lions commends the provincial prosecuting authorities for their efforts in successfully convicting Cilliers. We will keep you updated on this case.

Video: Escaped Kruger lion captured (full story: AG News Desk)
Escaped lion darted, Mbombela, Mpumlanga, South Africa

The escaped lion was safely darted and will be released once fully recuperated. Image source: The Lowvelder

A wayward male lion, who presumably escaped from Kruger National Park and had been on the loose in Mpumalanga’s Mbombela area, has been successfully darted and captured not far from where it was first spotted.

Late last week, Juan de Beer, acting senior manager of the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency’s (MTPA) Wildlife Protection Services, confirmed that the lion had been sighted, after killing a cow, near the Long Tom Pass on the R37.

The MTPA was informed, and veterinarian Dr Ferreira du Plessis and carnivore scientist Gerrie Camacho went in search for it. Although the lion hid in thick bushes, they managed to dart it successfully.

Upon examination, they found that the lion had some slight injuries, and was transported to a rehabilitation facility where it will be treated and tested for TB. Once fully recuperated, they will decide where to release it. (continue to full story and video here)

Hawks nab alleged Gauteng rhino poaching kingpins (full story: News24)
stock photo of white rhino in the wild

The Hawks have announced a significant breakthrough in a two-year long operation that led to the arrest of two men suspected of being kingpins in a rhino poaching syndicate operating in Gauteng.

The Hawks’ Colonel Johan Jooste said on Tuesday in Pretoria that the directorate, in cooperation with SANParks, had managed to disrupt the supply chain of poached rhino horn from the Kruger National Park.

“We made a paradigm shift in wildlife trafficking and the whole supply chain,” said Jooste.

He explained that Mandla Mashele, 37, and Kelvin Malapane, 30, were not suspected of being poachers themselves, but allegedly acquired rhino horn and then facilitated the export of the horn to Southeast Asia.

“These specific persons have recruited people to obtain rhino horn, then they will pay a high price for the horn that will be received by the two or three runners working for them and from there they will supply end user markets,” said Jooste.

He said this was significant because it effectively disrupts the supply chain of poached rhino horn from Kruger National Park to the greater Gauteng area.

“We will always see the ripple effect in terms of how effective it was, so it’s always important irrespective of how big the syndicate was.” (continue to full story here)

Zambia hippo cull via trophy hunting not as high as 2,000, says minister (full story: AG News Desk)
Hunter with hippo, trophy hunting

© Umlilo Safaris

The Zambian government on Tuesday denied reports that it has authorised the culling of 2,000 hippos in the Luangwa Valley.

Born Free, a conservationist organisation which two years ago led protests against plans by the government to cull elephants in the famous Luangwa Valley, in eastern Zamiba, has reported that the government plans to reinstate the culling program which was halted after protests in 2016.

According to the organisation, the government has agreed to conduct the culling with a South African base hunting firm of up to 2,000 hippos over the next five years.

But Minister of Tourism and Arts Charles Banda, while acknowledging that the culling will take place, said it was not 2,000 hippos that will be killed. He told reporters during a press briefing that the government has agreed with the South African firm that not more than 250 hippos will be culled in a year and that the figure may vary depending on the environment. (continue to full story here)

Mountain gorilla numbers surpass 1,000 (full story: AG News Desk)

Mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

Mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda © Stuart Sinclair [first runner-up in Photographer of the Year 2018]

The population of mountain gorillas, one of the world’s most endangered species, is on the rise after a population survey was performed in the transboundary Virunga Massif, one of the two remaining areas where this critically endangered great ape is still found.

The survey results revealed that numbers have increased to 604 from an estimated 480 in 2010, including 41 social groups and 14 solitary males in the transboundary area. When combined with the published figure of 400 mountain gorillas from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (where the rest of the sub-species is found), the total population sits at an estimated 1,004 mountain gorillas.

The survey was conducted by the Protected Area Authorities of DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda under the transboundary framework of the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration, and supported by many partners and various donors. (continue to full story here)



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