After almost a decade of delays in court, three rhino poachers were officially sentenced by a court in South Africa this March.
In August 2009, several park game rangers set up a roadblock after hearing gunshots. Shortly after, three men were stopped, and promptly arrested, after the rangers and Anti-Poaching Unit found a rifle, two bloody axes and rhino horn.
However, the suspects used various tactics to delay the trial over the years, which caused several witnesses and officers to be excused for being too ill or too far away geographically to participate.
Finally in March, one suspect received a 14-year sentence, and the other two received 10 years. It was the second rhino poaching conviction for one of them, for which he has already served a six-year sentence.
While the conviction is supported across the board, many critics and political affiliations in South Africa (such as the Inkatha Freedom Party) are calling for stronger wildlife criminal courts.
In February 2019, the South African Department of Environmental Affairs released the 2018 poaching numbers: 769 rhinos. While still a large number, the 2018 statistic show a decrease of 259 from the 1,028 rhinos poached in 2017.