Five rhino poachers -- one left injured after a shoot-out -- have been arrested at the Phinda Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal police said on Sunday.
"[On Saturday\ a joint operation by Durban Organised Crime Unit, Nyathi Anti-Poaching and [a\ special task force were patrolling around Hluhluwe when they received information about a group of people who were suspected to be poaching at Phinda game reserve," Captain Thulani Zwane said in a statement.
He said the officials then intensified their patrols and spotted the five men. "When the officers approached the suspects, it is alleged that the suspects fired shots towards the members". Zwane said that the officials fired back in retaliation -- with one of the alleged poachers wounded.
The five men arrested -- all between the ages of 17 and 38 -- were found in possession of an unlicensed hunting rifle with three live rounds, a silencer and an axe.
They are due to appear in the Hluhluwe Magistrate's Court on Tuesday and will face charges of illegal hunting, attempted murder, possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition. Earlier this month the environmental affairs department said that 558 rhinos had been killed since January. Of that total, 48 had been poached in KwaZulu-Natal.