The courts in South Africa sounded a stern warning to poachers when three men were each sentenced to 29 years in jail for killing four rhinos. According to Johan Jooste of the Endangered Species Protection Unit ( espu ), the poachers, killed the animals in a farm in Thabazimbi province. The accused started killing the rhinos, one of which was pregnant, in December 1997, said Jooste.
He said the men also turned to theft and housebreaking during their poaching stint. They used the weapons they stole to kill the animals. According to Jooste, the espu sent out a five-member investigation team in response to a complaint. The three suspects arrested were convicted in the Thabazimbi magistrates court on charges of housebreaking, theft and poaching. Jooste said, "This is a really good wake-up call for all the poachers out there." It is also a very good breakthrough for the unit, considering all the work it has been doing.
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