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Police smash 'rhino poaching ring'

South African police said they have arrested 11 suspected members of a major rhino poaching ring which they said was linked to many rhino poaching incidents.

Police spokesman Vish Naidoo said the suspects include two veterinarians and a game farmer.

He said 10 were arrested earlier this week and one was arrested on Wednesday after he appeared in court to support the accused.

Game farmer Dawie Groenewald was released on one million rand (£90,000) bail, which is believed to be the heaviest in the crime's history.

The remaining 10 were released on bail ranging from 5,000 to 100,000 rand (£450 to £9,000).

Prosecution spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga said they face charges including assault, defeating the ends of justice, fraud, corruption, malicious injury to property and illegal possession of weapons and ammunition.

He said the case was postponed until April for further investigation.

Mr Naidoo said 204 rhinos were killed this year alone in South Africa.

"Farmers must take precautions and game security have to be on the lookout," he said.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, rhino poaching increased dramatically in the last two years due to high demand for rhino horn in Asia, where it is sometimes used for medicinal purposes.

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