South Africa rhino poacher jailed for 77 years

South Africa lost a record 1,004 of the animals to poachers last year

Johannesburg

A rhino poacher in South Africa has been sentenced to 77 years in prison in one of the heaviest penalties aimed at curbing poachers who target rhinos for their horns, which fetch a high price on the illegal market in parts of Asia.

The sentencing of Mandla Chauke, a South African who was arrested in Kruger National Park in 2011, shows that South African courts are starting to realise the negative impact that poaching has not only on wildlife but also an economy heavily dependent on tourism, South Africa's national parks service said Wednesday.

“We hope that this will be a deterrent” to other poachers, parks spokesman Reynold Thakhuli said.

Earlier this month, a South African court sentenced two Mozambicans to 16 years in prison for killing a rhino and taking its horn last year in Kruger park, where many poachers cross from neighbouring Mozambique. In late 2012, a South African court sentenced a Thai national to 40 years in prison for selling rhino horns.

Park staff walk near the carcass of a three-day-old rhinoceros killed by poachers in the southern part of Kruger National Park (Getty Images) Park staff walk near the carcass of a three-day-old rhinoceros killed by poachers in the southern part of Kruger National Park (Getty Images) Kruger park has lost 370 rhinos to poachers this year — well over half the total for South Africa — and 62 people have been arrested in connection with some of the cases, according to the parks service.

South Africa, which has 70 per cent of the world's rhinos, lost a record 1,004 of the animals to poachers in 2013, according to government figures. Some Vietnamese and Chinese view rhino horn as a status symbol and a healing agent, despite a lack of evidence that it can cure. The horn is made of keratin, a protein also found in human fingernails.

Chauke, the poacher, and two accomplices shot three rhinos after illegally entering Kruger park, then got into a firefight with patrolling rangers in which one suspect was killed and another fled, according to police. Chauke was convicted of murder, illegal hunting of rhinos, rhino horn theft, illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, as well as trespassing in a national park. He was sentenced Tuesday in the Nelspruit Magistrates Court, near Kruger in the northeastern part of South Africa. A mural painted on a suburban wall in Johannesburg, South Africa calls for the halt to rhino poaching (AP) A mural painted on a suburban wall in Johannesburg, South Africa calls for the halt to rhino poaching (AP) Prosecutors had argued successfully that Chauke should be convicted for the murder of the accomplice who was killed by rangers, South Africa's SABC News said on its website. The judge rejected Chauke's argument that he was forced into the poaching excursion by his accomplices.

In a separate case, five suspected poachers appeared in court Tuesday after they were arrested in a game reserve in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province, south of Kruger park, according to police. The group was detained after a shootout with police in which one suspect was injured, and they face charges including attempted murder, the South African Press Association reported.

But it's not all bad news for rhinos in South Africa. This is the story of Gertjie the baby rhino, and how conservation workers helped him battle back against adversity:

 

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk