The arrest of Nylstroom vet Dr Manie du Plessis, his partner Dr Karel Toet and his wife Marisa, follows that of Tom Fourie, a well-known figure in game circles in Musina. Dr Joseph Okori, manager of the WWF’s African Rhino Programme, said he was very concerned about professionals being suspects in rhino poaching.
“We support any measures that the South African Veterinary Council might put in place to monitor veterinary professionals,” he said. Of the 24 000 rhinos left in Africa, 80% are currently found in South Africa, but a marked increase has seen as many as 20 rhinos a month being poached in South Africa. The two vets were taken into custody with seven other suspects after a joint investigation by the Hawks, SA National Parks and the National Prosecuting Authority. The arrests were reportedly made at Modimolle, Polokwane and Musina.
“We now want to see the judicial system lay down severe penalties against the perpetrators of these rhino poaching crimes to act as a deterrent to other potential rhino poachers out there,” said Dr Okori. “These arrests have been the first stab at breaking the back of rhino poaching syndicates in South Africa.”