Ranger shoots cop, soldier kills ranger

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An on-duty Kruger National Park game ranger searching for rhino poachers shot dead a policeman patrolling the South Africa-Mozambique border and was in turn shot dead by a soldier in what seems to be a tragic case of mistaken identity.

Police spokesman Colonel Vishnu Naidoo said that the officer was patrolling with a soldier near the Mozambican border after responding to information on potential poaching in the south of the giant park around 9 am on Saturday morning.
“They came under fire and our police officer was shot and killed. The defence force member retaliated and fatally wounded the shooter. It has emerged that the shooter was in fact an on-duty game park ranger. We opened an inquest and that is primarily to determine the circumstances and the cause of the incident,” Naidoo said.

Reuters earlier this month reported almost two rhinos are being killed every day to meet surging Asian demand for the animal’s horn, which has become more valuable than gold, platinum and cocaine. The street value of rhino horn has soared to $65,000 a kilogram, driven by the mistaken belief among some in Southeast Asia that the horn can prevent, and even cure, cancer.

National Parks data shows that by early April 159 rhinos had been killed in South Africa in 2012. At this rate, more than 600 will be lost to poachers this year compared with 448 in 2011.