File Image/ANA

PORT ELIZABETH - Two men appeared briefly in the Brits Magistrate’s Court on Monday on charges related to the illegal trade in rhino horn, the Department of Environment Affairs said in a statement on Tuesday.

The department said it welcomed the arrests and prosecution of the men who were arrested for allegedly smuggling 180 rhino horn weighing a total of 150kg to the Far East.

Petrus Stephanus Steyn (61) and Clive John Melville (57) appeared briefly in the Brits Magistrate’s Court and their case has been postponed to 26 April for a bail application.

"The men were arrested near Hartebeespoort Dam in the North West province during an operation including members of the Hawks Serious Organised Crime Endangered Species Unit, Special Task Force, Tracker SA and Vision Tactical, following the receipt of information that a vehicle from a coastal province was carrying a considerable amount of horns." the statement said.

It said the horns were allegedly destined for South East Asian markets.

"Although the domestic trade in rhino horn is legal when the necessary permits in terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act have been obtained, the international commercial trade of rhinoceros horn is prohibited in terms of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora," the department said.

The department said that cooperation and collaboration for intelligence from the general public is crucial for such successes as the joint operation which netted the pair, and it called on the public wishing to report rhino poaching to its hotline (0800 205 005  or 10111). 

It is also an indication of the success of the Integrated Strategic Management of Rhinoceros in South Africa, the government’s collaborative anti-poaching approach, the department said.

African News Agency (ANA)