A bakkie and eight large endangered cycads of the Encephalartos princeps species were impounded in Nqamakwe. During the operation, four suspects were charged and detained in the early hours of Sunday morning, 31 July 2022.
The Eastern Cape Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEDEAT)’s environmental management investigators were notified on Saturday night by members of the Nqamakwe community that they required assistance in apprehending cycad poachers operating in their forests. They together with Nqamakwe South African Police Services (SAPS) responded immediately by advancing to the forest where they met community members and arrested the four alleged cycad smugglers. DEDEAT team was coming from East London.
It is believed that the plants were destined for the Gauteng market. However, the investigations are ongoing as the Department also believes there are more people involved in the syndicate.
DEDEAT is encouraged because the Nqamakwe community responded to this crime and took action despite the poaching occurring on the weekend and during cold weather. The Department thanks and commends them for this.
The poaching of cycads from the province has been quiet for several years since the conviction of more than 40 cycad poachers that kept them behind bars for prison sentences ranging from 7 to 11 years. Some have recently been released from jail.
There is another cycad case on the roll in the Mthatha NPA Office.
Cycads are ancient plants dating back to the era of dinosaurs and are part of the Eastern Cape’s heritage.