The ongoing battle to beat the poachers saw police and specialist SANParks personnel arrest 12 suspects in connection with poaching related activities, Mpumalanga police said.
The arrests were executed over a two week period and included a 48-year-old man working in the Kruger National Park.
The arrests come in the wake of the release of national poaching statistics showing rhino poaching is down and South Africa has – for the third consecutive year- recorded a decline in rhino losses.
Last year, the country lost 769 rhino – a decrease of 259 compared to 2017 when rhino kills totalled more than a thousand. More than 400 rhino were killed in Kruger, always a prime target for poachers because of its size.
SA Police Service Mpumalanga provincial commissioner, Lieutenant General Mondli Zuma, said police, rangers and protection services based at Skukuza in Kruger, were all instrumental in the arrests.
“Their good work as well as that done by others in Kruger contributes positively to securing the future of natural resources such as elephant and rhino which need to be preserved,” he said.
The last two in the current series of arrests happened on Monday in the Stoltznek section of Kruger. The men had a .458 rifle, ammunition and a silencer, all confiscated.
Last week saw three suspects appear in the Bushbuckridge Magistrate’s Court on charges including possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition as well as trespassing and possession of a dangerous weapon – an axe.
An earlier appearance in the same court saw two other suspects remanded in custody. They also face charges of possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition and trespassing.
Days earlier four men, including a SANParks employee, were arrested as they attempted to exit the Kruger with what police described as “a freshly cut set of rhino horns”, a hunting rifle and ammunition. They have appeared in court and a bail application is expected to be heard this week.