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Media Release: Two suspected rhino poachers arrested in the KNP

Date: 6th June 2011

Two rhino poachers were arrested in the Kruger National Park (KNP) by a combined SANParks, SANDF and SAPS operation on Friday the 3rd June, 2011, shortly after 2 white rhino were shot and killed and their horns removed in the Nwanedsi area of the KNP.

During the incident one of the suspected poachers was shot and wounded and is currently receiving medical attention in hospital. Two firearms, an AK47 and a .375 heavy calibre hunting rifle, as well as 3 rhino horns, were recovered in the operation.

This incident comes shortly after the successful prosecution of two rhino poachers, Frans Makamu and Solomon Mabuza who were arrested in separate incidents in 2010 for rhino poaching activities in the Kruger National Park (KNP). Both were found guilty for illegal hunting of rhino, possession of illegal firearms and ammunitions on Wednesday, June 1, 2011.

Both accused offered a plea of guilty in the Nelspruit Regional Court. Frans Makamu, who was also found guilty of the possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition, was sentenced to 11 years while Solomon Mabuza was sentenced to five years imprisonment.

The Chief Executive Officer of South African National Parks (SANParks), Dr David Mabunda, said: “As SANParks, we welcome the additional support of the SANDF and SAPS in addressing the current upsurge in rhino poaching in the KNP. The successful joint operation carried out on Friday as well as the recent sentences given to the two convicted rhino poachers will send a clear message to everyone that poaching of wildlife is not tolerated in this country”.

We wish to thank all the men and women of the SANParks, the SANDF, and the SAPS for their joint efforts in fighting the poaching crime in the country and particularly in the KNP. Although it may be a little too early to celebrate we are definitely beginning to see a downward trend in terms of the number of rhino poaching incidents in the KNP. Details of trends cannot be released at the moment due to the infancy of the observation.

This, along with the upswing in arrests, both in the KNP and the country as a whole, will have a positive impact on the current high incident rate of rhino poaching activities in the country, continued Dr Mabunda.

This year alone a total of 122 suspected poachers have been arrested around the country, of which 60 of them were arrested in the KNP. Since January this year, throughout the country, 20 suspected poachers have been killed and 10 injured in clashes with authorities. Of this figure, 15 suspected poachers have died and nine wounded during contacts with rangers and soldiers in the KNP alone.

To date 173 rhinos have been poached throughout the country, of which 120 were poached in the KNP.

For previous media statements on this matter please go to www.sanparks.org

Issued by:
SANParks Corporate Communications

Media enquiries:
wanda mkutshulwa – Head of Communications, SANParks, Tel: (012) 426 5201, Cell: 082 908 2692, e-mail: wandam@sanparks.org

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