Heavy fine for Vryheid hunter

2012-10-05 00:00

A FORMER professional hunter, who admitted that he illegally imported game, including blue duiker, a lioness and two Nile crocodiles, from other provinces into KwaZulu-Natal where some of the animals were illegally hunted, was handed fines totalling R50 000 or three years’ imprisonment yesterday.

Gerald Conway (39) also admitted that he’d dealt with or “handled” a leopard that he knew he had been killed without a permit.

Leopards are listed as specially protected game.

The court ordered that the leopard skin be seized from him and be forfeited to Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.

The offences all took place in Vryheid.

Regional court magistrate Jennifer Anthoo sentenced Conway to further fines totalling R65 000 or two years and nine months’ imprisonment which were suspended, in terms of a plea agreement reached between the defence and the prosecution in the matter.

Conway is currently described as “self-employed as an agricultural and mining supplies salesman” in court papers.

He is married and has three children.

He recorded as “extenuating circumstances” that he did not “totally flout the regulations controlling the game industry” and “did obtain numerous permits” throughout his career as a professional hunter and game capturer.

In mitigation, he pointed out the onerous processes to obtain permits tempted professional hunters to take shortcuts. “The procedures governing the obtaining of licences, permits or consents were, and probably is, of such a nature that it frustrates the industry, thereby tempting them to flout or disregard the relevant legislation,” he stated.

Conway said he was remorseful for committing the offences and “attempting to take shortcuts”.

His crimes had resulted in him no longer being involved in the game trade and caused him to suffer huge financial losses in terminating his game interests.

He had also suffered extensive legal costs, is saddled with a criminal record, had to appear in court and admit his wrongdoings and was declared unfit to obtain hunting permits in the near future, he said.

He pleaded guilty to illegally importing 10 blue duiker from the Eastern Cape to Vryheid without permits in April 2005, and to illegally keeping them in captivity. On July 11, 2005 one of the blue duiker was illegally hunted without a licence.

On June 29, 2005 he admitted that he’d illegally imported a lioness from the Orange Free State.

The lioness was killed in an illegal hunt the very next day.

In June 2007 Conway confessed he’d illegally imported two Nile crocodiles — a protected species — from Gauteng to KZN, and kept them in captivity.

One of the crocodiles was illegally killed the same month.

The final charge concerned his handling of the leopard, knowing that it had been killed without a permit.

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