Two skirmishes in the Kruger National Park this week led to the deaths of two rhino poaching suspects and the arrest of six others – bringing the total number of arrests in October 2014 to a record 54.
South African National Parks (SANParks) said in a statement that rangers in the Crocodile Bridge region in the south of the park made contact with three suspected rhino poachers.
“In the ensuing pursuit, two were fatally wounded and the third managed to escape back into Mozambique. A hunting rifle, ammunition and other hunting equipment were recovered on the scene,” said SANParks spokesperson Reynold Thakhuli.
In a second operation, six suspects were arrested outside the western boundary of the Kruger and a hunting rifle, ammunition and two cars were confiscated.
“The Kruger has experienced an increase in armed incursions recently, resulting in 14 contacts between armed poaching gangs and joint forces consisting of SANParks rangers, police and members of the defence force,” said Thakhuli.
The latest arrests bring the total for the year to 144 – the highest number of suspected poachers arrested in the park to date.