Tshkolo William Dikoko, Thabang Riet and a 17-year-old minor (not pictured), have been found guilty of killing an extremely rare black oryx, believed to be the only of its kind in SA and valued of R8 million. Picture: Soraya Crowie

Kimberley - Three young men have been found guilty of killing an extremely rare black oryx, believed to be the only of its kind in South Africa and valued of R8 million, in the Barkly West Magistrate’s Court.

The incident occurred in November last year at the Mattanu Private Game Reserve.

The three accused, Tshkolo William Dikoko, 26, Thabang Riet, 18, and a 17-year-old minor was found guilty on Thursday on two charges relating to the contravention of the Northern Cape Conservation Act (hunting a protected species without a permit and using prohibited hunting methods), as well as trespassing.

All three accused initially pleaded guilty to trespassing, but not guilty to the charges of hunting a protected species without a permit and hunting using prohibited methods.

The three suspects entered the private game reserve without permission and were hunting with dogs at the time of the incident.

Read: Rare buck, valued at R8m, killed for food

According to evidence presented in court by the accused, they entered the farm under a fence and the dogs ran ahead of them and caught the animal. They then pelted it with stones until it died, whereafter they slaughtered the animal, divided the meat among themselves and left, leaving the animal’s head in the veld.

The buck’s bashed-in head, with one horn removed, was discovered among blood covered stones (one the size of a soccer ball) and blood stains, by Mattanu Private Game Reserve owner, Dr Johan Kriek, a week after it was reported missing.

Bloodstains were also discovered on the fence, where the three apparently left the farm with the meat.

While handing down judgement, Magistrate Veliswa Sityata, said on Thursday that it was clear from evidence presented by Kriek and an official from the Northern Cape Department of Environment and Nature Conservation, that the animal was killed in an inhumane, painful and traumatic manner.

She said she found the three accused to be untrustworthy as they gave three different versions of the event in a “desperate attempt to conceal the truth”.

The three, during their plea explanations, first said that when they came across the animal it had already been killed by the dogs, while, during cross examination, they said that the buck could have fallen with its head against rocks.

In a third version the suspects admitted that they pelted the animal with stones to “accelerate its death” after they found that it had been injured by the dogs.

Sityata said that there was no evidence that they tried to save the oryx.

She found them guilty on all three charges. Sentencing is expected later this year.

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