Eight people have been arrested for rhino poaching in Mpumalanga, SA National Parks (SANParks) said on Thursday. Five suspected poachers were arrested on Wednesday en route to Timbavati Private Game Reserve, said spokesman Paul Daphne in a statement.
Daphne said they were found in possession of a high calibre hunting rifle, ammunition and poaching equipment.
The Timbavati group had been put under heavy surveillance for three weeks, following a joint operation between the Kruger National Park (KNP), Mpumalanga tourism and SANParks.
“We viewed this as a critical group as they had been focusing their operations in the KNP and adjacent private game reserves, including the Klaserie area, for some time now,” said Daphne.
“We believe these arrests will assist in resolving a number of other unsolved poaching cases.”
Three more suspected rhino poachers were arrested on Wednesday in the Giyani area following an operation between SANParks and police, with a hunting rifle and ammunition recovered.
Daphne said the continued proactive actions of all those involved in the arrests had paid off, with the possibility of more arrests not ruled out.
“This is a clear indication that resilience and patience pays off,” he said.
“We are grateful that no lives were lost during the encounter with these heavily armed, suspected poachers.”
The eight arrested were expected to appear in court soon.