Joint operation nets illegal wildlife trader


The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE), has commended the arrest of a Vietnamese national in connection with the illegal trade in wildlife and an illegal firearm found during a recent raid on properties in Bela-Bela and Pretoria.

The DFFE said the arrest of the man follows a four-month investigation involving analysts and wildlife investigators.

“The integrated team involved in the raid comprised the Green Scorpions from the department, the Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (LEDET), the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD) and South African National Parks, as well as members of the South African Police Service,” the department said.

Search and seizure warrants were executed simultaneously at a Vietnamese-owned farm near Bela-Bela in Limpopo and at two storage units in Pretoria.

The joint investigation team seized 4.19 kg of lion teeth, 680 g of lion claws, and more than 60 kg of processed animal products believed to be lion gelatine. An illegal firearm was also confiscated.

The suspect appeared in the Bela-Bela Regional Court on Friday and was charged with illegal possession of a threatened species in terms of the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act.

The case was postponed to 20 August 2021 for a Vietnamese interpreter.

The department said a collaborative nature of the 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.”