Illegal lion traders heavily fined

2016-03-16 06:00
SAM MASHININI, MEC for Economic Development, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, says the department is tightening environmental law enforcement to curb illegal animal trading.  Photo: Mlungisi Louw

SAM MASHININI, MEC for Economic Development, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, says the department is tightening environmental law enforcement to curb illegal animal trading. Photo: Mlungisi Louw

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THE MEC for the Department of Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Sam Mashinini, says the department has imposed a R250 000 fine for illegal lion trading in Bethulie.

Mashinini says the department will tighten environmental law enforcement to curb illegal animal trading. The MEC was tabling his 2016-’17 budget vote in Harrismith on Monday (14/03). The department was allocated R493,548 million, which includes an amount of R2,629 million for EPWP (Expanded Public Works Programme) projects.

“Unfortunately, despite our efforts, during 2015, 11 rhinos were poached in the Free State, six of them from provincial protected areas and the rest from privately-owned game farms,” said Mashinini.

The MEC said as part of saving the rhino, the department had received permission to dehorn all the rhinos in the protected areas. With the cooperation of the South African Police Service (SAPS), Departmental Green Scorpions and the Departmental Veterinarian and Game Capture Unit, the process of dehorning the rhinos is now 90% complete. DNA samples of all rhino and horns removed have been taken and microchips implanted in horns and live rhino. Ongoing monthly special anti-poaching operations with the South African Police are taking place and various successes have been registered.

“This will definitely deter poachers from entering the province,” he said.

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