Rare African Pangolin rescued from alleged poachers

Rustenburg: A very rare male African Pangolin, which is part of the highly endangered species in the world, was recovered after allegedly being stolen from the Rampampa Mountains, just outside Mabeeskraal, Mogwase.

The animal was allegedly stolen and brought to Rustenburg on Wednesday, 1 August 2018. Following a tip-off from members of the community, the animal was found in possession of two accused at Rustenburg Taxi Rank. The suspects had the petrified animal inside a plastic bag and were about to leave with it in a taxi when members of the Phokeng Stock Theft Unit pounced on them.

According to information received, the taxi was stopped and searched. During the search, the animal with an estimated valued of R400 000.00 was found. Preliminary investigation revealed that the suspects were about to sell the animal for R20 000, 00. The Pangolin is regarded as one of the world's most sought after endangered species. It was handed over for safekeeping to an animal expert, who is responsible for its transportation to the Hospital for Vulnerable Animals in Johannesburg.

It is alleged that pangolins, whose whole bodies are covered in scales, are caught due to unfounded beliefs of the great medicinal value of their scales.

The two accused, Surprise Moyani Nkomezulu, 25 and Tlhobogang Daniel Mantsho, 34, appeared in the Rustenburg Magistrates' Court on Friday, 3 August 2018. They were released on R2 500,00 bail each and will appear in the same court again on Friday, 31 August 2018.

The Cluster Commander of Rustenburg, Major General Arthur Adams commended members of the Stock Theft Unit for their swift reaction that led to the rescuing of the animal and apprehension of the two accused. He said nature conservation is everyone's priority and that the police will ensure that endangered species are fiercely protected. He also expressed his sincere appreciation to members of the community for their contribution towards the success.

Source: South African Police Service