By Dale Hes
A total of 54 poachers were arrested in the Kruger National Park (KNP) this October, an all-time record.
The South African National Parks (SANParks) announced that yesterday six poachers had been arrested and another two were fatally wounded in separate operations in the park.
In the first operation, Crocodile Bridge rangers 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 was recovered on the scene,” SANParks said in a press statement.
In the second operation, six suspects were arrested by the SANParks Environmental Crime Investigative Unit, with the support of the South African Police Service (SAPS), in a follow up operation outside the KNP’s western boundary. A hunting rifle, ammunition and two cars were confiscated.
The arrests follow two weeks of successful operations, resulting in 35 suspected poachers being taken into custody, and brings the total arrests in the KNP for the month of October to a record 54. The month has also seen an increase in armed incursions, resulting in 14 contacts between poaching gangs and Joint Forces consisting of SANParks Rangers, the SAPS and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).
The total number of arrests for the year in the KNP has reached 144, also a record.
The latest rhino poaching statistics show at least 900 of the animals killed across South Africa this year, with 581 of these being poached in the KNP.
Commenting on the latest situation in the park, the Acting Chief Executive of SANParks, Nomvuselelo Songelwa, praised the actions of the SANParks rangers, and the SAPS and SANDF forces engaged in the fight against rhino poaching.
“I would like to thank the men and women of our Joint Forces for the courage and tenacity they have shown in the fight to safeguard the rhino population in the KNP. We are very proud of them and their actions. We are focused on winning this war at all costs and I can promise South Africans that we will leave nothing to chance in protecting our rhino in this iconic park and in our other national parks,” said Songelwa.