Rhino kingpin gets reduced sentence

Chumlong Lemtongthai will now serve 30 years in prison for his involvement in a poaching syndicate.

Thai national Chumlong Lemthongthai. Picture: Werner Beukes/ SAPA

JOHANNESBURG - Convicted rhino horn trafficker Chumlong Lemtongthai has managed to shave 10 years off his prison sentence.

Last year, the Thai National was sentenced to 40 years in prison by the Kempton Park Magistrates Court.

But he appealed the sentencing at a higher court this week and will now only serve 30 years in prison.

The poaching ringleader pleaded guilty to organising bogus trophy hunts to sell rhino horns on the international black market.

The ruling was a landmark victory for anti-poaching organisations and was widely welcomed by animal activists.

Activists for Animal Africa's Miranda Jordan says the court appears to have made an important statement by the decision.

"This set some sort of a precedent in being a deterrent. A lesser sentence would not act as a deterrent."

It's unclear whether Lemtongthai will appeal further at a higher court.