Police raid home of hunter with links to rhino poaching; find illegal firearm and scheduled veterinary drugs.

Hugo Ras
Professional Hunter Hugo Ras. Photo: Gallo Images

Members of the police’s dog unit raided the luxurious house of controversial professional hunter and game farmer Hugo Ras in Magalieskruin in the early hours of Saturday morning following information received during the week.

Police spokesperson Capt. Paul Ramaloka yesterday confirmed the raid, but declined to give further details other than that the operation was unrelated to the Hawks’ ongoing investigations into rhino poaching syndicates.

Ras, 37, the former owner of Ras Safaris, was arrested in his plush Magalieskruin house in Pretoria in August last year when several members of the police, the Hawks and SARS took part in a raid.

An illegal firearm and scheduled veterinary drugs were confiscated during the raid. Ras, who has several previous convictions related to nature conservation transgressions, was subsequently released on R5000 bail. The police task team found five crates laden with the scheduled veterinary drugs in his house during the raid.

Earlier this year two veterinarians – one of them the world-renowned game veterinarian and former head of the Kruger Park’s game capturing unit, Dr Douw Grobler – were also arrested and charged with Ras of contravening the Medicines and Related Substances Control Act.

Initially, eight men were arrested between August and November last year. Charges against five were withdrawn in April, sparking outrage from animal rights activists.

The group allegedly supplied a rhino poaching syndicate with tranquillisers. The M99 drug, also called etorphine, was used to dart rhinos to enable the removal of their horns.

While the police didn’t want to elaborate on the latest raid on Ras’s property, The New Age has learnt from reliable sources close to the investigation that the material confiscated during the raid will be sent for forensic tests to ascertain any links to another criminal investigation.

Ras is due back in court in Pretoria North on Monday, November 5.

Source: The New Age