KZN farm manager in court for poisoning of vultures

2014-04-21 00:00

A KWAZULU-NATAL farm manager, Reon Horn, is facing multiple charges in a Kokstad court arising from the mass poisoning of highly endangered Cape Vultures on the farm of KZN farmer and businessperson Gary Porritt last year.

The carcasses of 48 highly endangered Cape Vultures and one White-backed Vulture were discovered on Porritt’s farm at Swartberg on July 15 last year.

The discovery was made by members of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and the Endangered Wildlife Trust, who were carrying out a bird census from the air when they spotted the dead birds.

The birds, which are scavengers, allegedly died from feeding off poisoned sheep carcasses placed on the farm. Poisoning is a method that environmentalists report is frequently used by farmers to control predators like jackals.

The Witness learnt that Horn, a manager at the farm, was summonsed to appear in court at Kokstad on Thursday to face multiple charges in connection with the poisoning of the birds.

He is facing various charges of contravening both national and provincial environmental regulations arising from the poisoning of the birds, and those aimed at protecting species that are in danger of extinction, such as the Cape Vulture.

The Cape Vulture is more endangered than rhinos in South Africa.

According to the website of Tusk Vulture Conservation Project (VCP), there are only an estimated 2 900 breeding pairs left in the country.

The Cape Vulture is already extinct as a breeding species in Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Namibia.

Horn did not appear in court on Thursday, reportedly due to a prior agreement reached between the prosecutor at the court and his attorney.

As is routine in such cases, the court issued a warrant for Horn’s arrest but ordered that it be stayed until the next date on which he is due to appear — April 30. This means that police will not execute the warrant unless the court deems it necessary for them to do so.

• Gary Porritt released a press statement in the wake of the vulture poisoning incident on his farm last year, saying his family were active conservationists who were devastated by what happened.

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