Poachers ‘thought nyala hunt was legal’

2009-07-07 00:00

TWO men who unlawfully shot an nyala, a protected species, in a conservancy in the Camperdown district on June 21 were fined R10 000 or 12 months’ imprisonment, half of which was suspended for five years, by Camperdown magistrate Thys Taljaard.

Taljaard ordered that the rifle, owned by Sunthrassen Govender, which was used to shoot and kill the nyala bull, be forfeited to the state. He also ordered that the fines paid by the men be allocated to Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW).

The poachers, Sunthrassen Govender (55) and Neshellan Govender (40), who are both from the Durban area, pleaded guilty under the Natal Conservation Ordinance to hunting protected game without a licence or permit. They said in statements to the court that when Sunthrassen Govender shot and killed the nyala, both of them had been under the mistaken impression that the hunt was legal.

Neshellan Govender said he was given verbal permission by two farm managers ahead of the hunt for it to take place. He had accompanied Sunthrassen Govender when he shot the nyala at about midday, but did not possess a firearm or take part in the hunt himself.

The two men said Sunthrassen Govender was in possession of a special game licence issued by EKZNW allowing him to shoot one nyala, one kudu and one reedbuck.

They did not realise that nyala are a protected species and that besides having a special licence to shoot one, written consent also has to be obtained from the farmer or land owner, who in turn has to get written consent from EKZNW to hunt the animal.

Sunthrassen Govender said the permit, which was valid for 30 days, was effective at the time and he believed he was carrying out a legal hunt. “I had only fired one round and killed one nyala as permitted by my special game licence and was on my way home when I was arrested,” he said.

Three people — a couple and their son — who were in the company of the Govenders when they were arrested were released by police after questioning, as investigators accepted they were “innocent bystanders” and were not involved in any way.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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