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Thu Oct 02 02:23:17 SAST 2014

Rhino penalties grow horns

SCHALK MOUTON | 30 January, 2013 00:00
Poachers have slain 395 rhino in the Kruger National Park so far this year. File photo.
Image by: DANIEL BORN

The Department of Environmental Affairs has increased the maximum fine for rhino-related crimes to R10-million and prison sentences to a maximum of 10 years.

The new penalties were published in the Government Gazette yesterday.

Previously, the penalties were limited to fines not exceeding three times the commercial value of the animal killed, or prison sentences not exceeding five years, or a combination of the two.

At present, the auction value of a live black rhino is roughly R500000 - but its horn sells for about R5.4-million/kg.

"The price of rhino horn is increasing exponentially but the penalty is not," said Mike Knight, chairman of the Southern African Development Community Rhino Management Group.

"It is a dynamic process and things are going to have to change."

With a population of 4880 in Africa, of which 2000 are in South Africa, the black rhino is listed as critically endangered.

Knight has helped to draft a rhino conservation plan that, though national in scope, deals with the protection of the species throughout Africa.

Its short-term goal is to increase the black rhino population by 5% a year over the next 10 years.

The long-term vision is to "contribute to the recovery and long-term persistence of the global black rhino population by having viable populations of the indigenous subspecies in their natural habitat throughout their former range within South Africa".

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Thu Oct 02 02:23:17 SAST 2014 ::