In just over two weeks, Kruger National Park officials and rangers arrested 23 suspected rhino poachers and confiscated 10 high calibre rifles.
The arrests started a day after Kruger ranger Respect Mathebula was killed in a confrontation with suspected poachers.
Kruger managing executive Glenn Phillips commended the good work saying the world renowned game reserve’s rangers proved they are “resilient in the aftermath of the loss of a colleague”.
“The arrests are a sign the spirit of Respect is being honoured by the ranger corps,” he said, adding that no suspected poachers were either wounded in killed in the contacts “clearly demonstrated the professionalism and discipline” of Kruger’s rangers.
A statement issued by Kruger has it that there has been “relentless poaching activity since Mathebula’s death with 156 activities, including contacts reported”.
The park repeated its appeal to neighbouring communities to help in the fight against rhino and other poaching by “exposing those who exploit their children, husbands and relatives to illegally hunt rhino. These people do not have the welfare of communities at heart but are criminals without a conscience who need to be put behind bars for a long time for their acts”.
All 23 arrested face charges related to poaching and possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition.
While the primary tasking of soldiers deployed in Kruger is border protection as per Operation Corona, they successfully assist rangers with anti-poaching operations in addition to preventing undocumented people from illegally entering South Africa with or without smuggled goods. This has seen soldiers directly involved in the apprehension, arrest or killing of 188 suspected poachers since 2010.