The Kruger National Park's (KNP's) Rangers and SANParks’ Environmental Crime Investigation Unit (ECI) arrested two suspected rhino poachers in the Pretoriuskop section of the Kruger National Park yesterday (13 December 2009). An R1 rifle and ammunition were recovered during the operation. During this anti-poaching operation a wounded adult female white rhino was found wandering in the area. The animal eventually died of gun shot wounds which she received shortly after being found.
Rangers were on their normal daily patrols during early Sunday morning when they heard a gunshot in the area. They immediately summoned help from the Environmental Crime Investigation unit who reacted immediately by helicopter. The area was cordoned off and search operation started immediately. During the operation four suspects were flushed out of hiding. Two of the suspects were immediately arrested and two managed to escape arrest because the area is quite lush and thick. The incident has been reported to the South African Police Service who are assisting with the follow-up investigation.
The KNP Managing Executive, Mr Abe Sibiya, in his reaction to the news said, “We are very saddened by this spate of rhino killing which is going on, not only in the Kruger but in the rest of the country. However we wish to commend our Rangers for the job well done in arresting the two suspects immediately and we hope that it is just a matter of time before they apprehend the remaining suspects.”
Rhino poaching has become a major problem in the country since last year. The KNP alone has lost 48 white rhino and 1 black rhino since January 2009. During the same period 27 suspects believed to be linked to the rhino poaching incidents have been arrested.. “We have strategies in place to fight this scourge which we believe are working for us and our Rangers are extremely determined to flush all the poachers out of this park without failure. This is a war that we must win; no matter how much it cost us,” Mr Sibiya added.
Whilst we in the KNP have lost the majority of the rhino in the country so far this year, there has been a rather dramatic increase in rhino poaching within the provinces around the country as well.
Laura Mukwevho, Internal Communication Practitioner, Kruger National Park. Contact: Tel: (013) 735 4262 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
William Mabasa, HOD: Public Relations and Communication, Kruger National Park. Contact: Tel: (013) 735 4363, cell: 082 807 3919 or email: email@example.com