Cape Town, South Africa (PANA) - In a landmark ruling, a court in Western Cape, South Africa, has convicted and sentenced a man for killing a Great White shark.
The Mossel Bay Magistrate’s Court Monday convicted Leon Bekker, who posed for photographs with a great white that he landed off a beach in the area in March 2011.
He was sentenced to a fine of US$12,000 or one year in jail, but the sentence was suspended for five years.
In 1991, South Africa outlawed the killing of these protected fish, but this marks the first time a case has gone to court.
Environmentalists have welcomed the ruling, saying it has set a precedent that will give law enforcement officials the clarity they need to prosecute violators.
South Africa has long been known for its abundance of Great White Sharks and they are prevalent along the Western Cape coastline.
The sharks, which grow up to seven metres (23 feet) in length and four tons in weight, are responsible for many fatal attacks in the country.
Nevertheless, South Africa is a leader in the exploration and conservation of these predators.
The small town of Gansbaai outside Cape Town is viewed as a breeding ground for these sharks and thousands of seals which they feed on.
Boat trips and shark cage diving in Gansbaai bring in millions of dollars in revenue from tourists every year.
-0- PANA CU/SEG 5Feb2013