DNA samples from rhino horn recovered from a Chinese national in Mozambique have arrived in South Africa.
The samples will be tested to determine if the animals were poached in the Kruger National Park.
“This is a very positive development for us and we have been working closely with our counterparts in Mozambique. Should the results come back positive, we will most certainly initiate an investigation to determine if we can link these suspects to cases and individuals here in South Africa,” said Police National Commissioner General Riah Phiyega.
The Chinese national was arrested in possession of the rhino horns weighing a staggering 124 kilograms and elephant ivory weighing a massive 1126 kilograms.
Police say the arrest of a Chinese man found in possession of 124 kilograms of rhino horn and 1126 kilograms of ivory is the biggest bust in history.
The combined value of the horns and ivory is estimated at R65 million, according to police.
The task team and staff from the SANParks travelled to Matola, Mozambique, and took samples of all the rhino horns.
The rhino horn samples will be compared to the E-Rhodis database at the University of Pretoria.
SAPS spokesperson Lieutenant General Solomon Makgale said South Africa’s interest in having the DNA samples taken and tested stems from the g belief that some of those rhino horns may belong to the rhinos killed in the Kruger National Park, which shares the border with Mozambique.
“The SAPS authorities take this co-operation with Mozambique very seriously as they believe that it will assist the two countries tremendously in the fight against rhino poaching and other environmental crimes,” Makgale said.
The task team has since July 2014 until May 2015 arrested a total of 133 suspects.
These suspects were arrested during operations in and outside the park.
The suspects were arrested for offences ranging from illegal possession of firearms, illegal possession of ammunition, murder, trespassing in a national park, hunting a protected species, possession and dealing with rhino, racketeering, theft of rhino horn and possession of firearm to commit a crime.
Through hard work and dedication the police managed to secure about 34 convictions for cases spanning from 2010 and 2015.
The number of convictions could have been 37, but charges were withdrawn against three suspects whose cases are not linked. – SAnews.gov.za
Source : SAnews.gov.za