Farm manager 'dedicated to conservation'

Cape Town - The Entabeni Safari Conservancy in Limpopo on Friday disputed a police report stating that the reserve’s manager, Jan Lessing, had been arrested for possession rhino horns and elephant tusks.

Lessing, 54, appeared in the Naboomspruit Magistrate's Court on Thursday. He is out on R3 000 bail.  

The conservancy’s Pete Richardson said 54-year-old Lessing had “dedicated his life to conservation” and is unsure how the police came to believe that the rhino horns in their possession were illegal.

He said the arrest could have arisen from Lessing possibly not filling out all the necessary paperwork.

Richardson said the horns found were from a rhino that had died eight years ago and from a baby rhino that died last year. The tusks were also from elephants that died some years ago on the reserve.

“Autopsies were carried out on all of them and certified autopsy reports were filed and the horns placed in the reserve safe for safe-keeping,” Richardson said.

The baby rhino, Yster was an orphan that had been “hand-raised” by Lessing and his team after they were asked by the environmental affairs department to look after it.

As per regulations, Yster’s horn was micro-chipped and removed by a certified veterinary surgeon.

It was kept in a safe with the tusks as it is illegal to bury a rhino horn or to sell it.

He also stated that Lessing had not been charged with illegal possession of firearms.

“All necessary paperwork to resolve this matter is being urgently undertaken so this can be laid to rest and all at Entabeni Safari Conservancy can get on with the work of saving, rehabilitating and protecting Africa’s heritage,” Richardson said.

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