Rhino Horn Smuggler, Investigated in Julian Rademeyer's Killing for Profit, Gets 40 Year Sentence
Thai national Chumlong Lemtongthai was sentenced to 40 years in prison last week for his role in a global rhino horn smuggling ring run by the Xaysavang Trading Export-Import company. Lemtongthai is one of the people that Julian Rademeyer investigated in his book, Killing for Profit: Exposing the Illegal Rhino Horn Trade, and the most senior member of a rhino horn smuggling ring to be convicted in South Africa.
Rademeyer has written an article for the Mail & Guardian about a video of a “legal hunt” carried out on a North West game farm owned by Marnus Steyl. It is legal to hunt rhinos and import their horns as “personal hunting trophies” but they cannot be traded or sold. Lemtongthai, who is visible in the video, admitted to hiring Thai prostitutes to pose as hunters. He claims that the landowners and hunting groups, including Steyl, did not know about the fraud, however emails, invoices and video footage of the hunts seem to indicate otherwise. Charges against the five co-accused were dropped.
Please note that this footage is not for sensitive viewers:
Disturbing video footage of a bloody rhino hunt on a North West game farm raises questions about the National Prosecuting Authority’s controversial decision this week to withdraw criminal charges against game farmer Marnus Steyl and a Thai national, Punpitak Chunchom.
Filmed in January last year, the footage – a copy of which has been obtained by the Mail & Guardian – forms part of a devastating digital trail of evidence that leads from South Africa to Southeast Asia. It shows Steyl, accompanied by a professional hunter, Harry Claassens, repeatedly shooting a rhino in what appears to have been an illegal “pseudo hunt”, carried out at the behest of an international wildlife-trafficking syndicate.
The Mail & Guardian‘s Faranaaz Parker has written about the 40 year conviction and spoke to Rademeyer about the impact that this could have on the syndicate:
It was expected that Chumlong Lemtongthai would receive no more than 10 years in jail. But, days after Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa had called for a strict sentence to be imposed against him, Lemgtongthai was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
His fellow accused did not share his fate though. Professional hunter Harry Claassens turned state’s witness and charges were withdrawn against five other men involved in the poaching operation, including a farmer, two farm workers, and two other Thai men.
Rademeyer shared a page from the book, featuring photographs of Lemgtongthai wielding a gun:
— Julian Rademeyer (@julianrademeyer) November 8, 2012