A VIETNAMESE national has been arrested in connection with the illegal trade in wildlife and illegal possession of a firearm following a raid on properties in Bela-Bela and Pretoria on 12 August 2021.
The arrest of the man came after a four-month investigation involving analysts and wildlife investigators.
The integrated team involved in the raid comprised the Green Scorpions from the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, the Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (LEDET), the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD) and SANParks, as well as members of the South African Police Service.
Search and seizure warrants were executed simultaneously at a Vietnamese-owned farm near Bela-Bela in Limpopo and at two storage units in Pretoria.
“A Vietnamese national was arrested. The man appeared in the Bela-Bela Regional Court on Friday.
The case has been postponed to 20 August 2021 for a Vietnamese interpreter,” says the environment department in a press release.
The man has been charged with illegal possession of a threatened species in terms of the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act.
The joint investigation team seized 4.19kg of lion teeth, 680g of lion claws and more than 60 kg of processed animal products believed to be lion gelatine. An illegal firearm was also confiscated.
“The collaborative nature of this operation has once again proven the importance of an integrated approach to investigations.
The valuable assistance of the private sector in this matter is also highly appreciated,” says the department environment.
Image (Lion’s teeth and claws found at Vietnamese home in Bela Bela).