Leopard poacher jailed

2011-10-14 00:00

A MAN with a previous conviction for poaching, Phumlani Jobe (27), has been jailed for three years for illegally hunting a leopard and other protected species by setting snares in Mkhuze Game Reserve in Zululand.

Jobe’s younger accomplice, Dumisani Sibiya (18), who is a first offender, was sentenced to 12 months under correctional supervision with community service and a life skills programme.

The two were arrested inside the game reserve in the early hours of February 22.

Magistrate N. Moodley found they were part of a large group of poachers who illegally entered the game reserve, which forms part of the iSimangaliso World Heritage Site, the evening before, and set 117 snares, according to a press statement issued by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.

The poachers were arrested after field rangers discovered numerous snares and set a trap for them, lying in wait until the early hours.

At about 2 am they saw a group of about 10 people approach and begin checking snares. The group were carrying bags, carcasses and weapons, including cane knives and spears.

Rangers managed to arrest the two accused and a 15-year-old who was subsequently referred to a diversion programme.

The fleeing poachers dropped many of their spoils, including a fresh leopard skin with the head still attached, two wildebeest carcasses, four impala carcasses and an nyala carcass.

Dave Robertson, conservation manager at Mkhuze, testified that illegal hunting in the area has reached epidemic proportions and he urged the court to send out a strong message against poaching.

He estimated the value of the animals poached in this case to be about R80 000.

State advocate Waldo Smit of the Specialist Environmental Prosecutions section of the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions asked for jail sentence and submitted that sentences for poaching are on average too lenient.

iSimangaliso CEO Andrew Zaloumis said the park is pleased with the sentence.

• ingrido@witness.co.za

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