Suspected rhino poachers arrested in the KNP


South African National Parks (SANParks) personnel have arrested three suspected poachers in the Kruger National Park (KNP) after they shot several rhinos in the reserve.

SANParks said the incident happened on 1 July when a tourist reported to the Malelane Ranger hearing two gunshots when on the road between Malelane and Skukuza. In response, a helicopter, dog and rangers were immediately dispatched to investigate. The helicopter flew over the area and located one fresh rhino carcass and an injured rhino lying next to the carcass. Further investigations revealed a further two rhino carcasses in the immediate area. The injured rhino had to be put down due to the serious bullet injuries it sustained.

A second helicopter and Rangers were dispatched to collect the free-running dogs, while the first helicopter deployed Rangers and a dog to locate the tracks exiting from the scene. The Rangers and dog continued to follow the outgoing tracks for a few kilometres, after which the free-running dogs were released to continue with the follow up. The hounds indicated a specific area where three suspects were found and arrested. The suspects are all from Mozambique and were in the country illegally, SANParks reported. They were found in possession of a high calibre hunting rifle, ammunition, horns from three rhinos, cell phones and other poaching equipment.

The three will face charges related to the incident once the SA Police Services have finalised their investigation including establishing whether the alleged offenders have been involved in other similar or other crimes previously.

The KNP Managing Executive, Gareth Coleman, congratulated all the anti-poaching teams on the success, thanking the actions of the tourist which led to the arrests saying “being our ears and eyes is very important in this difficult anti-poaching campaign. The KNP is vast and Rangers can’t be everywhere therefore it is crucial for anyone who notices anything suspicious, to report immediately to assist the Rangers in reacting swiftly. It is critical that such activities are reported directly to SANParks Ranger Services or management rather than reporting on social media.”