Ongoing efforts by the SA Police Service (SAPS) aimed at reducing incidents of rhino poaching in national parks are yielding positive results, spokesman Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said.
Operation Rhino is an ongoing SAPS-led tasking in conjunction with SANParks and others, including the KwaZulu-Natal provincial conservation agency, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.
In April 49 suspects were arrested in connection with poaching in the Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga and the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi game reserve in KwaZulu-Natal. During the arrests police recovered and confiscated 23 firearms (17 rifles and five pistols) and 192 rounds of ammunition.
Eleven axes, six silencers, six vehicles and 23 mobile phones were also taken into police custody for use as evidence.
“As much as the SAPS is encouraged by the figures so far, the aim for the police and its partners is to keep the momentum going to keep the situation under control and to send a clear message to any would-be poachers that we mean business,” Naidoo said.
According to him South Africa has to date this year lost 165 rhinos to poachers – a decrease of 60 compared to the same period last year.
He added the success of the joint anti-poaching operation was in no small measure due to all the “necessary and required expertise to enable successful outcomes being under a single command.
“Apart from the SANDF, the SAPS component is made up of members from units including K9, forensic services, and specialist detectives from the stock theft unit, reaction team and analysts.”