"Everything in Africa is based on money," according to Chinese businessman Guan Jiang Guang.

Guan is one of many mid-level dealers involved in the illegal rhino horn industry in South Africa – and he was recently captured by Al Jazeera's hidden cameras describing his dealings and his tactics for evading the law. 

In a recently posted video exposé titled "The Poachers Pipeline", the Al Jazeera Investigative Unit goes undercover to infiltrate the criminal chain of dealers, agents and traffickers who profit from the multi-million dollar trade in rhino horn.

The six-month-long investigation focused primarily on the mid-level dealers who facilitate illicit trade between Africa and Asia, and it has raised serious questions about the involvement of high-level politicians in this activity. In the spotlight are members of the Chinese president's delegation, who are believed to have purchased ivory and rhino horn while visiting South Africa in 2015, as well as South African State Security Minister David Mahlobo, who was portrayed as having ties to Guan.

The documentary met with sharp criticism from Mahlobo, who called the exposé "gutter journalism", adding that it tarnishes his reputation and that of South Africa's ruling party, the African National Congress. Although Mahlobo admitted to visiting a massage parlour owned by Guan, he has denied any links to a rhino poaching syndicate. He's also welcomed a full investigation into the matter.

According Al Jazeera, "About twenty five thousand rhino are left in Africa. Six thousand have been killed in the last decade. The largest concentration of rhino is in South Africa and the Kruger National Park has become the major killing field, with two or three animals shot every night by local poachers."

We'll bring you updates on this story as we get them.


Top header image: lucyb_22, Flickr