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US indicts two for conspiracy to sell illegal rhino hunts



by Joseph Earnest  October 27, 2014   


Newscast Media WASHINGTONThe owners of Out of Africa Adventurous Safaris were charged October 23 with conspiring to sell illegal rhinoceros hunts in South Africa, money laundering and secretly trafficking in rhino horns.

The indictment charges Dawie Groenewald, 46, and his brother, Janneman Groenewald, 44, both South African nationals, and their company Valinor Trading CC (d/b/a Out of Africa Adventurous Safaris) with conspiracy, Lacey Act violations, mail fraud, money laundering and structuring bank deposits to avoid reporting requirements. The Lacey Act, the United States’ oldest criminal statute addressing illegal poaching and wildlife trafficking, makes it a crime to sell animal hunts conducted in violation of state, federal, tribal or foreign law.

According to the 18-count indictment, from 2005 to 2010, the Groenewald brothers traveled throughout the United States to attend hunting conventions and gun shows where they sold outfitting services and accommodations to American hunters to be conducted at their ranch in Musina, South Africa. During the time period covered by the indictment, Janneman Groenewald lived in Autauga County, Alabama, where Out of Africa maintained bank accounts. He is accused of money laundering and structuring deposits to avoid federal reporting requirements. Hunters allegedly paid between $3,500 and $15,000 for the illegal rhino hunts.

The defendants are charged with selling illegal rhino hunts by misleading hunters. The hunters were told the lie that a particular rhino had to be killed because it was a "problem rhino," according to the indictment.

Click here to read or download the entire indictment. (pop-up)

Therefore, while no trophy could be legally exported, the hunters could shoot the rhino, pose for a picture with the dead animal and make record book entries, all at a reduced price. Meanwhile, the defendants are alleged to have failed to obtain necessary permits required by South Africa and to have cut the horns off some of the rhinos with chainsaws and knives.

The indictment alleges the defendants then sold the rhino horn on the black market. Eleven illegal hunts are detailed in the papers filed in federal court, including one in which the rhino had to be shot and killed after being repeatedly wounded by a bow, and another in which Dawie Groenewald allegedly used a chainsaw to remove the horn from a sedated rhino that had been hunted with a tranquilizer gun.

“The fact that defendants used American hunters to execute this scheme is appalling — but not as appalling as the brutal tactics they employed to kill 11 critically endangered wild rhinos,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “South Africa has worked extraordinarily hard to protect its wild rhino population, using trophy hunts as a key management tool. The illegal ‘hunts’ perpetrated by these criminals undermine that work and the reputation of responsible hunters everywhere.”

Adult rhinoceros have no known natural predators. All species of rhinoceros are protected under United States and international law. Since 1976, trade in rhinoceros horn has been regulated under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, a treaty signed by over 170 countries to protect fish, wildlife and plants that are or may become imperiled due to the demands of international markets.

Nevertheless, the demand for rhinoceros horn and black market prices have skyrocketed in recent years due to the value that some cultures have placed on ornamental carvings, good luck charms or alleged medicinal purposes, leading to a dramatic decline in the global rhinoceros population. Add Comments>>













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