By Ingrid Oellermann
Fifteen rhino have fallen to poachers bullets in KwaZulu-Natal since the beginning of this year, including a Black rhino found dead at Isimangaliso Wetland Park on the Eastern Shores.
This figure brings the shocking tally of rhino slain by poachers over the last 18 months to a total of 29 recorded incidents.
Two of the white rhino shot this year were killed on a private game ranch near Empangeni in Zululand, but the others have all been poached in protected reserves under the control of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.
Investigators were hopeful yesterday of a possible breakthrough when they detained four men and a woman, all of Chinese origin, who were caught travelling illegally in Opathe Game Reserve near Ulundi — the reserve where 11 white rhino have been lost to poachers since March this year. The suspects are believed to be shopowners in Ulundi.
KZN organised crime unit head Director Johan Booysen said forensic tests will be carried out on the vehicle to determine if the suspects are linked to poaching activity.
They are expected to appear in court soon.
The Witness this week questioned why none of the poaching incidents that occurred from January at Hluhluwe-Imfolozi game reserve and in Opathe Heritage Park near Ulundi had been made public via normal media channels by EKZNW, and whether there was a “cover up” of the poaching incidents by the organisation. More....