Mystic Monkeys and feathers wildlife park owner Christa Saayman. Photo: Supplied
A trial date was set to be announced for the two men accused of poisoning, killing and mutilating several lions at a wildlife park in June 2018.
“They’ll be appearing in the Modimolle court where they will receive their court date,” Limpopo endangered species unit’s Sergeant Edwin Ramaoka said.
Last month the Bela-Bela magistrate’s court transferred the case to Modimolle “because it is a regional court matter”, Ramaoka said. Michael Simon Madziwire (32) and Collen Jinjika (30) appeared in court on 16 July 2019, on charges of illegal hunting of protected species. The two foreign nationals were arrested in February 2019, after the police had pursued them for months. Their arrest confirmed the initial suspicions of Mystic Monkeys and Feather wildlife park owner Christa Saayman that the poisoning, killing and mutilation was an inside job.
Of the six lions which were poisoned, four were found with their paws and faces severed.
“We found a worker’s clothes with blood,” she said at the time.
The suspected worker disappeared shortly afterwards.At the time, Saayman said that although they could not find him, she had his wife and girlfriend’s contact details. After the attack, she said their camp was found full of meat laced with poison.
“They didn’t fire a single shot,” she said.
It was understood the poison used to kill the lions was “two-step”.
Crime and information analysis company, TopicWorx, said the poached body parts were most likely traded unlawfully in Asia and the Far East, including in Vietnam, Laos and Thailand, for “medicinal cures or ornamental value”.
“Lion body parts are also illegally trafficked to other African countries – Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and in South Africa – for muti purposes,” said TopicWorx spokesperson Joey Mostert.
Buyers believe they would attain “supremacy over individuals [others] and have greater influence and success in business”.
Mostert said sometimes a lions’ teeth would also be removed by poachers. “The hearts or adrenal glands are frequently used by traditional healers to protect an individual from harm or perceived enemies,” she said.
“Lion fat, which is hard to attain, is typically kept in a jar by muti users to safeguard their property from criminals and other dangers.”
A local traditional healer, who asked not to be named, said lion bones were believed to make people brave and fearsome.
“But killing lions and other animals for such purposes was witchcraft – and not part of the practice of being a traditional healer,” he said.
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