Sex workers used to 'hunt' rhino

2011-07-22 07:52

kalahari.com

Johannesburg - An international wildlife trafficking syndicate hired Thai prostitutes and strippers from clubs in Pretoria and Midrand to pose as "hunters" in sham rhino trophy hunts, an explosive statement claims.

The women, who had never fired a shot in their lives, would be paid R5 000 each for their participation in a hunt, according to a statement by a former rhino horn trader who has blown the lid on the syndicate.

Many of the women had been trafficked to South Africa where they were working illegally and trying to pay off the debts that bound them to their pimps.

Investigators believe the syndicate, which had previously flown groups of "hunters" to South Africa from Thailand, began recruiting Thai women locally in a bid to cut costs.

Permit regulations allow a hunter to shoot only one rhino a year.

Human trafficking

Investigators believe the restriction forced the syndicate to find an ever-changing pool of new "hunters" who could apply for permits and ensure a steady supply of rhino horn trophies.

These "legally" acquired rhino horn trophies, bought at R65 000/kg, would be shipped from South Africa to south-east Asia.

There the horns would be sold on the black market, eventually fetching up to $35 000/kg in traditional medicine shops.

In his affidavit the whistleblower identifies a Midrand businessman "who is possibly involved in human trafficking as he supplies females to work in strip-clubs..."

"A lot of the 'girls' he imports to work as strippers or prostitutes are Thai nationals," the statement says.

The insider claims that the syndicate's "man-on-the-ground" in South Africa, Thai national Punpitak Chunchom aka "Peter", would be tasked with finding "hunters" once rhino had been transported to a farm where they would be hunted.

Chunchom - who was forced to leave South Africa earlier this month after being arrested and found guilty of the illegal possession of lion bones - would notify the businessman’s Thai wife that he needed hunters.

Kick-backs

In a case where three permits were needed, she would "'collect' three passports from three 'ladies' and make copies of these passports" which would be used by the safari operator hosting the "hunters" to apply for permits.

Once the permits were issued, Chunchom would fetch the women and drive them to a farm where the hunt was due to take place.

Trackers would locate the rhino which would be shot. The "girls" would pose with the kill, holding a rifle.

A nature conservation official would be "on-standby" to be present for the hunt, measure the horn once it was removed, microchip it and enter the details in a register.

According to the insider he "would also get a kick-back for being so co-operative", adding that on one occasion "I saw him getting about R400 or R500 in cash".

"It looked as if it was a normal arrangement".

Fines laughable

Forensic investigator Paul O'Sullivan, who "turned" the rhino trader and convinced him to expose the syndicate, said the fines being meted out in many rhino cases were "laughable".

"The syndicate is flogging this stuff on the black market for R130m when they got it for R13m. So, in less than a year, they’re making a profit of more than R100m and the National Prosecuting Authority is talking about a fine of a few million rand.

"All they are doing with fines like that is increasing the cost of shooting the animal. They’re not stopping it."

 - investigations@media24.com
 
Read more on:    paul o'sullivan  |  punpitak chunchom  |  johannesburg  |  poaching  |  rhino poaching
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
118 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

20% off all TV Series!

Want to have a chilled day at home? Get 20% off TV series, the perfect excuse to "veg out". Shop now!

Save R700 on the Hisense LED TV Now R2499

Get the Hisense 32” HD ready LED TV for only R2499. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

As seen on TV - New book releases at only R199 each

Get mind blowing book savings on new titles. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Today is one of those days where the more positive and optimistic you are the more opportunities you seem to attract....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.