Two suspected rhino poachers have been killed in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park.
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife said in a statement on Monday that the poachers had shot a white rhino in Manzimnyama, near the park’s Memorial Gate.
Members of Ezemvelo’s Anti-Poaching Unit heard the shots and confronted the poachers, killing one instantly and wounding the other, who died later.
An axe, a .375 rifle and two white rhino horns were found in their possession. This was one of three poaching attacks in the park in four days
Ezemvelo’s Rhino Security Manager, Cedric Coetzee, said while the level of poaching was “undoubtedly” escalating, with three rhino carcasses having been found, Ezemvelo’s new joint operations with the SAPS was proving to be effective.
“I have absolutely no doubt that since the amounts being paid to these poachers has increased, so the number of incursions has escalated.
“But in collaboration with the SAPS, we are meeting them head-on,” he said.
“We will not be standing back, not for one moment. Our intelligence is improving all the time.”
Based on this improved intelligence, Ezemvelo set up several ambushes last Friday at Ozabeni in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park where field rangers confronted a poaching suspect.
Although the poacher escaped, Ezemvelo was able to seize a .375 bolt-action rifle, ammunition and a silencer.
On Sunday, two would-be poachers were intercepted by police at the Tembe Elephant Park.
They escaped but a .375 rifle with silencer was recovered.
Over the past month the Joint Operations Command has undertaken 11 further “cordon and search” operations. These resulted in three arrests, the recovery of two firearms, a large stash of ammunition and seizure of huge amounts of wildlife contraband such as animal skins and horns.
“What’s important is the accuracy of our intelligence. We are increasingly identifying the syndicates associated with rhino poaching. We are on to them and they should know that,” Coetzee said.
So far 33 rhinos have been poached in KZN this year. Almost 30 arrests have been made and 20 firearms recovered.