South African National Parks (SANParks) has in the first nine days of 2020 arrested seven suspected poachers in the Kruger National Park (KNP).
The first group of three suspected poachers were arrested on 2 January in the Lower Sabie/Skukuza area of the park after an extended daylong follow-up operation by Rangers supported by K9 and air wing rapid reaction units. During the contact, which happened just before last light, a heavy calibre hunting rifle, ammunition and poaching equipment was recovered.
A second group of three suspects were arrested on 7 January by a joint Stolznek and Pretoriuskop Ranger team supported by K9 and air wing rapid reaction support. This group were found in possession of a high calibre hunting rifle, ammunition and poaching equipment.
In the third incident on 9 January, Rangers, once again supported by K9 and air wing rapid reaction elements managed to make one arrest out of a group of three suspected rhino poachers after a lengthy follow up operation in the Tshokwane section of the park.
SANParks CEO Fundisile Mketeni congratulated Rangers on the arrests. Mketeni urged communities to continue cooperating with authorities and giving information that can help win this campaign. “These criminals reside in our neighbouring villages and we urge our neighbours to help us save jobs and create opportunities through tourism, because people come to the park to see these magnificent animals and if we lose them through the actions of these selfish individuals, we won’t be an attraction anymore.”
All suspects have been handed over to the South African Police Service for further investigation and will be appearing in court in due course, SANParks said.