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SOS Rhino : In the News : R540 000 fine for rhino hunt

R540 000 fine for rhino hunt

  19/10/2004 22:23 - (SA)

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Craig Bishop

Durban - A KwaZulu-Natal hunting outfit has been fined R540 000 for allowing a client to kill a white rhino without a licence.

The co-owner of the Nonile hunting concession in Mkhuze, Geffert Pretorius, allowed a German client to kill the animal on November 20 2000.

He not only failed to get a license to kill the animal, but the rhino was not his either.

He'd been allowed to keep the rhino for photographic safaris and stud rights.

The rhino belonged to Bloemfontein rancher Tim Rodman and American businessman Eric Skrimetta, who had bought the animal at the annual Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife game auction in Hluhluwe in 1999.

Both Rodman and Skrimetta flew from overseas to attend the trial at their own cost.

On Tuesday, Durban magistrate's court found Pretorius guilty of fraud, attempted fraud, theft and contravening a string of Natal Nature Conservation ordinances.

R200 000 compensation to client

All Pretorius's hunting licenses will be revoked for the next three years and he has been ordered to pay R125 000 compensation to each of the rhino's owners.

He also has to pay R10 000 to both Rodman and Skrimetta to cover their travel costs, as well as R200 000 compensation to his client, who originally had paid Pretorius R190 000 to shoot the rhino.

He was also found guilty of hunting specially protected game without a license and given a R40 000 fine or two years in jail.

He was further found guilty of selling specially protected game products without a license, and given a further two years suspended for five years.

Pretorius was convicted on a further three counts of failing to ensure his client hunted legally, failing to complete the required registration permit and failing to enter into a written contract with his client, and given another R30 000 fine or 36 months in jail.

Pretorius told the court he had believed the rhino was his to shoot. But, he failed to explain why he had failed to apply for a shooting permit.

The chief executive of the Professional Hunters Association of Southern Africa (Phasa), Gary Davies, commended provincial conservation authority Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife for a thorough investigation.

Has an international responsibility

"Some unscrupulous hunters can be tempted by money, but anyone who tarnishes the reputation of hunting will be brought to book," he said.

Ezemvelo Wildlife investigator Rod Potter said Ezemvelo had an international responsibility to ensure that all activities regarding Cites species were lawful.

White rhinos are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (Cites).

"The provincial and national reputation of hunting was dragged down by this incident.

"We welcome such a stiff sentence and believe it sends out a strong warning," he said.

Edited by Iaine Harper

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