Wildlife Watch

Crime Blotter: Rhino Horn, Panther Skins, and More

A weekly roundup of wildlife crimes.

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The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, in northern Kenya, is home to this endangered black rhino. Poachers target rhinos for their horns.

Every Sunday, Wildlife Watch notes some of the previous week’s wildlife crime busts and convictions around the world.

RHINO POACHING: A member of Zimbabwe’s Central Intelligence Organization is part of a five-member syndicate charged with poaching four black rhinos in the Sango Valley Conservancy and selling their horns to Zambian buyers, says AllAfrica. The man received a 20-year prison sentence.

DEER HUNTING: Wildlife officers nabbed five people in connection with the death of 26 deer in Pinetops, North Carolina, reports WRAL. They found 16 deer heads in a home, and “additional deer were found in various fields across the county.” The charges include night deer hunting and unlawful possession of firearms.

TIGER POACHING: Authorities held two men suspected of poaching tigers in India’s Pilibhit Tiger Reserve, according to The Times of India. It’s believed that the accused could belong to a larger gang of poachers who killed eight tigers in the reserve last year.

IVORY TRAFFICKING: An Interpol-led investigation targeting ivory trafficking in Africa resulted in 376 arrests, the seizure of 4.5 tons of elephant ivory and rhino horn, and the investigation of 25 criminal groups involved in the trade, the police agency said in a year-end statement. Called “Operation II,” the investigation ran from January to October 2015 and involved law enforcement across 11 African countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. 

PANTHER POACHING: A man was sentenced to three years imprisonment in Alwar, a city in the Indian state of Rajasthan, for poaching two panthers nearly 10 years ago, reports The Times of India. The man trapped the panthers and sold their skins.

FISH TAKING: A judge in Alaska sentenced a father and son to five years probation and ordered them to pay a total of $100,000 for illegal fishing between 2010 and 2013, according to Alaska Dispatch News. They fished for 4,000 pounds of halibut in the Yakutat area, but their permit called for fishing in the middle of the state’s southern coast, closer to Kodiak Island. The two falsified records to evade authorities.

PANGOLIN POACHING: Authorities in the Kavre district in Nepal were arrested while carrying eight pounds of pangolin scales, says The Himalayan Times. If convicted, the pair could face up to 10 years of prison.

Fact of the week: India’s Pilibhit Tiger Reserve is home to 44 tigers. During the past year, ten tigers were poached there, according to The Times of India.

This story was produced by National Geographic’s Special Investigations Unit, which focuses on wildlife crime and is made possible by grants from the BAND Foundation and the Woodtiger Fund. Read more stories from the SIU on Wildlife Watch. Send tips, feedback and story ideas to ngwildlife@ngs.org

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