JOHANNESBURG (AP) - South Africa's environment department says 25-year sentences handed down to three rhinoceros poachers are the stiffest yet.
In a statement Wednesday, the department says the sentences were handed down a day earlier by a court in Phalaborwa, an eastern town near Kruger National Park. The judge sentenced the poachers, arrested 18 months ago, to 10 years for illegal hunting. They were sentenced to an additional 15 years for possession of an illegal firearm, to run concurrently with sentences of eight and 15 years on other weapons charges.
Environment department spokesman Albi Modise says he knows of no other cases that resulted in such severe sentences.
South African officials have vowed to crack down on poaching after losing a record 448 rhinos last year.