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Hawks investigating well-known farmer for possession of rhino horns

Police arrested Pieter van Zyl and two alleged accomplices in a sting operation last Wednesday.

FILE: Nola, one of a handful of remaining northern white rhinos left in the world, has died at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Picture: San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

PRETORIA - The Hawks are investigating a well-known game-farmer found in possession of 113 rhino horns which were seized at his home in the east of Pretoria.

Police arrested Pieter van Zyl and two alleged accomplices in a sting operation last Wednesday when the trio tried to sell eight of the horns to an undercover detective.

They were granted bail in the Pretoria Regional Court on Friday.

The Hawks' Hangwani Mulaudzi says Van Zyl, Marco Swanepoel and Stephan Mylie were arrested for trying to sell eight rhino horns worth an estimated R800,000.

He says the trio led detectives to Van Zyl's house where they made a further discovery.

"Search revealed that they were about 105 further rhino horns that we managed to uncover. One of the suspects has claimed that they belong to him and we're in the process of now trying to ascertain the documents that he has."

Mulaudzi says the environmental affairs department is assisting in their investigation, while DNA samples are also being taken from the seized horns to establish their origin.