The rhino horn “kingpin” from Thailand was arrested in South Africa yesterday.

Chumlong Lemtongthai, 43, has been described as a “leading figure” in international rhino poaching. The arrest is the culmination of a one-year investigation, South African officials said.

They are used in traditional Chinese medicine, as well as for decoration and to produce luxury goods. 

More than 300 rhinos were killed in South Africa last year and rhino horns are prized in some Asian markets. They are used in traditional Chinese medicine, as well as for decoration and to produce luxury goods. 

According to the BBC, Lemtongthai allegedly obtained trophy hunting permits and used them to organise illegal poaching expeditions. Officials say he would then buy back the horns from the hunters for an average of 65,000 rand ($9,700; £6,034) per kilogram and export them.

Constant exposure to the news tends to provoke cynicism. News reports are full of selfish governmental actions undertaken in the name of “national interest”-often to the detriment of another (usually poorer) nation.

His arrest is clearly good news for the rhino population. However, the headline provokes an interesting, if tangent, line of thought.

Constant exposure to the news tends to provoke cynicism. News reports are full of selfish governmental actions undertaken in the name of “national interest”-often to the detriment of another (usually poorer) nation.

Armies fight insurgents. Wars are waged for (if not on the surface) economic and power interests. We often see headlines displaying stories of events benefiting small ruling elite at the expense of the masses. However, this BBC report on the rhino arrest breathes refreshment into this orthodoxy.

It cannot be financially measured.

The South African government are acting in the interest of nature-an interest which easily transcends national boundaries.

It cannot be financially measured. There is no short-term gain to be had by the South African government in this arrest (other than looking good in the eyes of those who care for nature).

It is with this in mind, alongside the often selfish actions of governments, that this arrest of Lemtongthai should be greeted with a smile.

It isn’t often that we see governments doing something “nice”.

About The Author

I am a recently graduated history student from the University of Reading. Wanabee journalist and avid blog-reader.

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