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SOS Rhino : In the News : Unit attaches 'stolen' rhinos at farm

Unit attaches 'stolen' rhinos at farm

  September 3, 2004
By Nalisha Kalideen
The Star, South Africa

Four white rhinos that were darted, kidnapped and illegally sold to a game reserve are to be reclaimed by the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) today.

The unit, gathered early this morning at a farm in Pienaars Rivier, Limpopo, to identify and tag four rhinos which had allegedly being stolen from the state-owned Andover Reserve, in Limopo, in October 2001.

It was alleged in papers before the Pretoria High Court that the former reserve manager of Andover, Mathys Maritz, had illegally removed the rhinos.

The rhinos were since sold to a farm in Limpopo.

"We have in our possession a statement by the pilot of the helicopter which had been flown over the reserve, and had illegally darted and captured the rhino," advocate Peter Volmink, from the AFU said.

He said this morning the rhino would not be removed from the farm but would instead be tagged and monitored until such time there is an outcome in the case.

At the moment the AFU has a preservation order from the Pretoria High Court.

A theft case against Maritz is continuing.

"We do not want to remove the rhinos at this stage."
"To dart them and place them in a transporter might just traumatise them."

"Although we are entitled by law to remove (them) it is in their best interest to remain on this farm and they will be monitored by the (state-appointed) curator," Volmink said.

The rhinos are valued at R300 000 each.

Seven lions which were also allegedly illegally taken from state-owned reserves will be seized tomorrow.

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