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The Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife ranger arrested on Friday in connection with rhino poaching would remain behind bars until his case is heard in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court next week.
Caught in a trap laid by Ezemvelo to flush out three rangers suspected of having links to international rhino poaching syndicates, Bheki Msweli, a ranger, and another man unrelated to Ezemvelo, Malusi Dubazane, appeared in the Mtubatuba Magistrate’s Court yesterday.
They were remanded to August 2 when they will appear in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court. The two were not given bail.
The men were arrested at Mtubatuba and Melmoth in |Zululand on Friday after an eight-month joint investigation by Ezemvelo and the Durban organised crime unit. They were allegedly in cahoots with Chinese, Vietnamese and Malawians who were recently arrested in Gauteng in possession of rhino horns, elephant tusks and leopard skins.
The rhino horn seized in the arrests was valued at more than R40 million.
Ezemvelo spokesman Musa Mntambo said the former field ranger, who worked as a guide on the Imfolozi walking trails for some years, had been transferred to the Zululand Wildlife Investigation Unit at Opathi game reserve in mid-2011.
Mntambo said they were hoping for more arrests.
The second man under suspicion was one of the rangers who drowned last month while crossing Lake Nhlabane after seizing illegal gill nets and a canoe on the banks of the lake.
A third ranger is also suspected but is yet to be arrested.
Mntambo said investigation of the killing of four white rhino in the Hluhluwe game reserve and the one in Imfolozi over the weekend was under way.
The Worldwide Fund for Nature said yesterday that international research titled Wildlife Crime Scorecard: Assessing Compliance with and Enforcement of Cites commitments for tigers, rhinos and elephants, rated Vietnam as one of the worst performers and the top destination for rhino horn.
The research has been released as governments gather in Geneva this week to discuss issues relating to the wildlife trade.
In the report China is also rated as failing to effectively police its illegal ivory markets while illegal ivory is openly sold in boutiques in Thailand.