Marnus Steyl, a South African lion breeder and safari operator has emerged as a key supplier of millions of rands worth of rhino horn to a ruthless south east Asian wildlife trafficking syndicate.
Steyl allegedly stood to make at least 16 million rand in just 13 weeks this year by supplying 50 sets of rhino horn to a Laotian company fronting for the syndicate.
It has been established that the Xaysavang Trading Export-Import Company - which reportedly operates from a hotel in central Laos - placed the order on April 23rd.
The requisition which was signed by one of the company directors states bluntly, "1 month can shoot 15 rhino." Chumlong Lemtongthai, a senior Xaysavang director and Thai citizen was arrested 2 weeks ago at a house in Edenvale, Johannesburg.
Lemtongthai's "man on the ground" in South Africa, Punpitak Chumchom was recently forced to leave the country. Marnus Steyl allegedly locates the rhinos that are to be hunted.
The trophies are then exported to Thailand and Laos where they are ground up and sold on the black market for medicinal purposes. Lemtongthai's arrest was the culmination of a year long investigation by the South Africa Revenue Service, aided by the Hawks.
Source: Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force