South African National Parks (SANParks) arrested five suspected rhino poachers in the Kruger National Park’s (KNP’s) Malelane Section in an intelligence driven operation on Saturday 23 November 2019.
The suspects were in possession of five fresh rhino horns, a high calibre hunting rifle, ammunition and poaching equipment. The vehicle they were travelling in has also been impounded for further investigation, SANParks said.
The arrests followed the discovery of two fresh rhino carcasses in the section and were covered with grass and twigs to delay their discovery. The Section Ranger immediately deployed his rangers around the area to look for possible vehicles that might be ferrying the suspects.
A suspicious kombi with two visible passengers and three others, who were hiding, appeared not far from where the carcases were discovered. The permit in their possession was for two persons and the Ranger became more suspicious when he saw three others hiding out of sight.
He then instructed the driver to come out with hands in the air and to open the rear door which exposed the other passengers whom he loudly instructed to lie on the floor with the driver, he then handcuffed all three and quickly proceeded to arrest the fourth suspect who then pointed out the fifth suspect whose gun was pointing at the Section Ranger but failed to pull the trigger. The Section Ranger then called for backup after effecting the arrests.
The suspects are in custody and SANParks is not ruling out further arrests. They will appear in court to face rhino poaching related charges in due course.
The CEO of SANParks, Fundisile Mketeni, congratulated the team on the arrests and continued to warn criminals that KNP is ready to stop them in their tracks “We are thankful that one Ranger managed to subdue five criminals without any harm unto himself and continue to warn those who intend poaching in the KNP that our dedicated staff, technology and information from communities will lead to your incarceration. We won’t stop until all criminals are removed from society,” said Mketeni.