South Africa’s premier game reserve – the Kruger National Park – “continues to come to grips with people in our ranks who sabotage our efforts” to curb rhino poaching and other wildlife crime.
This was how the park’s managing executive Glenn Phillips reacted to the arrest of three Kruger rangers on suspicion of rhino poaching this week.
“It is always sad when own staff become involved in poaching,” he said, adding congratulations were in order for SANParks investigators who brought the suspects to book.
“Slowly but surely we are coming to grips with people in our ranks who sabotage our efforts in this campaign. We still have confidence in those who are committed and loyal and encourage them to continue with their excellent work. We will not be deterred in ensuring we are successful in continuing the fight against the scourge of wildlife crime in Kruger.
“Those who are still involved or know of people involved and want to give us information – both the chief executive of SANParks (Fundisile Mketeni) and I are willing to listen,” he said.
The rangers, based in the park’s Crocodile Bridge section, were arrested in a joint operation mounted by SANParks rangers and its environmental investigation unit with the assistance of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks) and the SA Police Service.
In another rhino poaching related incident police at OR Tambo International Airport confiscated more than 30 pieces of rhino horn valued at R23 million. A detector dog is reported to have sniffed out the horn hidden under door mats and laminated plywood in a container destined for the Middle East.
“The discovery and seizure of rhino horn is a feather in the cap of enforcement agencies working to rid the airport – and our country – of wildlife related crimes,” Environmental Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane said.