By Kim Helfrich
While arrests connected to rhino poaching lag a long way behind the number of animals killed, the anti-poaching brigade in the Kruger National Park is quietly going about its business and this week saw another three suspected poachers nabbed.
Latest available statistics from the Department of Environmental Affairs show arrests nationally stand at 272 while the number of rhinos killed is at 825.
In Kruger, by far the preferred target of rhino poachers, this week’s three arrests bring the total for the year to date to 103 – 30 more than were arrested last year.
The arrests took place in different parts of the park indicating the more militaristic approach adopted by retied SA Army Major General Johan Jooste, Officer Commanding the SANParks’ ranger corps, is working.
The arrests were made at Kingfisherspruit and Lower Sabie following firefights. An SA Air Force (SAAF) helicopter assisted men on the ground in the Lower Sabie incident.
To date October has been the best month of the year in terms of arrests with 19 suspects apprehended. Jooste said the month had been a morale booster for his team.
“We still find carcasses but feel we have neutralised a good number of poachers as well as confiscating rifles, ammunition and other equipment used by poachers. I am hopeful the measures we are and will still implement will bring poaching down to at least acceptable levels,” he said.
The former two star general said the arrest results were “definitely” proof that the dedication of those working counter-poaching operations in the country’s premier game reserve had not waned.
“We are making inroads. Every individual we arrest and every weapon we confiscate gives us more energy and hope.” More....