Thirteen suspected poachers have been apprehended in the Kruger National Park (KNP) in three separate operations as the Park continues the fight against rhino poachers and illegal hunters.
South African National Parks (SANParks) said the suspected poachers were all arrested on 28 March in various parts of the KNP, which has borne the brunt of rhino poaching.
“During follow up operations in the Pretoriuskop section after dark, Rangers made contact with a group of suspected rhino poachers whereby one of the suspects was fatally wounded and his accomplice was arrested. A high calibre rifle, ammunition and poaching equipment was confiscated. One of the SANParks field rangers was shot and injured in the foot, he was airlifted to hospital where he has been stabilised. His injury is not life threatening and he is receiving medical treatment and counselling,” SANParks said in a statement released yesterday.
Five suspected poachers were arrested at the Paul Kruger Gate when they attempted to enter the Kruger National Park. The suspects include a member of the South African Police Service (SAPS).
Six suspects were taken into custody at the Phalaborwa gate and included a SANParks Environmental Monitor who is based at Letaba. The suspects were found in possession of a firearm, ammunition and poaching equipment and apparently on their way into the park, SANParks said.
Chief Ranger Nicholus Funda congratulated the rangers saying “this is a befitting honour to our fallen colleagues one of whom we laid to rest on Sunday, that we are carrying out our mission to jealously guard our natural assets. Technology coupled with our member’s determination, is ensuring that we successfully apprehend those intending to poach our rhino. We urge our neighbours to assist us by reporting any suspicious activities to law enforcement agencies as the Rangers are doing their bit inside but that needs to be matched by all of us outside the KNP if we are to succeed in getting rid of this scourge,” concluded Funda.
In reference to the fallen colleague, he was talking about a ranger who was accidentally shot last week by an SAPS member who was handling a confiscated poacher’s rile. The shot fired ricocheted off the floor and fatally hit the ranger.
SANParks said investigations are ongoing in all the cases. Ten suspected poachers were also apprehended last week and weapons and poaching equipment seized.