AL: S. African sentenced after illegal import of leopard to Alabama
April 19, 2010
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A 42-year-old South African national was
sentenced to "time served" and ordered to pay $30,000 in fines after
illegally importing a hunted leopard to the United States. The trophy was
bound for a hunter in Alabama. U.S. Attorney Leaura Canary's office
confirmed the sentence.
Dawie Groenewald was also ordered to pay $7,500 in restitution to the
hunter who unknowingly paid for, and participated in an illegal safari in
South Africa. Canary's office said the hunter cooperated with investigators.
Groenewald owns a guiding and outfitting business in Limpopo Province,
South Africa called "Out of Africa Adventurous Safaris". He pleaded guilty
to a violation of the Lacey Act, a federal wildlife law that makes it
illegal to import to the United States wildlife that was illegally taken
under the laws of another country. The violation is a felony.
Investigators say Groenewald was arrested in late January at the
Montgomery Airport after visiting his brother. He was indicted in February,
spent eight days in jail and nearly two and a half months under house arrest
at his brother's home before this week's sentencing.
An investigation shows that Groenewald sold the hunting safari to the
sportsman in 2006, knowing that he was breaking the law. He then waited
nearly two years before applying for a permit to export the trophy to the
United States, saying the animal had been killed in 2008.
The leopard never made it to Alabama. It was intercepted by Service
wildlife inspectors at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.
Leopards are protected under both the U.S. Endangered Species Act and the
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, a global treaty
upheld by more than 175 countries.
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