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NEWS WRAP: Six animals electrocuted in Kruger + wildlife trafficking kingpin’s case dismissed

In this week’s news wrap a freak accident in the Kruger National Park has resulted in six animals, including a white rhino and two lions, being electrocuted; a suspected wildlife trafficking kingpin accused of smuggling $1 million worth of rhino horns to Thailand has had the case against him dismissed; two people were arrested at O.R Tambo International Airport after police found R2 million worth of rhino horn hidden in their luggage; and Vietnam customs forces have discovered nearly 1.4 tonnes of pangolin scales and 20 elephant tusks hidden inside a container shipped from Nigeria.

Freak accident as rhino, giraffe, lions and hyenas electrocuted in Kruger (full story: AG News Desk)
Lion in Kruger National Park, South Africa

Image of lion for illustration purposes only

A freak accident in the Kruger National Park has resulted in six animals, including a white rhino and two lions, being electrocuted after an Eskom pylon collapsed during a heavy storm.

SANParks spokesman Ike Phaalha said that a storm on Friday night caused the pylon to fall in the Skukuza section of the park, exposing a live wire. A white rhino, giraffe, two lions and two hyenas died as a result.

According to media sources, it is believed that the giraffe and white rhino died first, and then the lions and hyenas, who came to eat the carcasses, were subsequently killed by the live wire. The park rangers discovered the animals while accompanying the Eskom team to the site of where the pylon collapsed in order to repair it… (Continue to full story here)

Thai court dismisses case against suspected wildlife trafficking kingpin (full story: Zululand Observer)
Boonchai Bach was arrested in January 2018

Boonchai Bach was arrested in January 2018 in connection with a haul of 14 rhino horns smuggled from Africa to Thailand © AFP/File / Roberto Schmidt

A suspected wildlife trafficking kingpin accused of smuggling $1 million worth of rhino horns to Thailand has had the case against him dismissed, in a surprise Thai court verdict slammed by conservationists.

Boonchai Bach, a Vietnamese national with Thai citizenship, was arrested in January 2018 in connection with the smuggling of 14 horns from Africa to Thailand. His arrest came after police caught an airport quarantine official attempting to remove the horns from the quarantine section of a Bangkok airport.

The police sting led investigators to a major syndicate allegedly financed by Boonchai. But the case was dismissed by a judge on Tuesday because of a lack of evidence, according to an official at Samut Prakan provincial court, where the trial took place.

The case against Boonchai unravelled after a key witness changed his testimony linking Boonchai to the crime, according to the founder of anti-trafficking group Freeland, Steve Galster.

“In the end the case was low-profile and treated like a parking ticket,” Galster said, adding that the case “fell apart” when the prosecution’s only major witness “flipped” on the stand… (Continue to full story here)

Two caught at O.R Tambo with R2 million worth of rhino horn (full story: Herald Live)
African white rhino

Two people were arrested at O.R Tambo International Airport on Tuesday evening after police found R2 million worth of rhino horn hidden in their luggage.

Police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Katlego Mogale said the suspects, aged 36 and 40 years old, were arrested as part of an intelligence-driven operation overseeing the smuggling of horns out of South Africa.

“The suspects arrived at the airport with the intention of boarding a flight to Vietnam but they were intercepted by the SAPS team and their luggage was searched,” Mogale said… (Continue to full story here)

Hai Phong seizes 1.4 tonnes of pangolin scales, 100kg of tusks (full story: VietnamPlus)
Seized elephant tusks in Vietnam

The tusks seized at scene. Image source: Vietnam News Agency (VNA)

Customs forces in the northern city of Hai Phong discovered nearly 1.4 tonnes of pangolin scales and 20 elephant tusks weighing more than 100 kg hidden inside a container shipped from Nigeria.

The 20-feet container arrived at Lach Huyen port in Hai Phong on January 26. It was registered as carrying timber, with the receiver named as VIC Thanh Binh Import-Export Co., Ltd, which is located in Dan Phuong district, Hanoi.

Further investigation is underway into the smuggling of these illegal goods… (Continue to full story here)



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