© Photos: courtesy Frik Rossouw, SANParks CIS
Five poachers, responsible for the killing of three rhinos in the Kruger National Park (KNP) and adjacent Mozambique, have been arrested. This comes after a successful joint operation by SANParks Corporate Investigation Services (CIS) and the South African and Mozambican police.
In November last year, the poachers shot the first rhino in the Sabie Game Park on the Mozambican side of Kruger's south eastern border. Another rhino carcass was found at the end of September this year just south of the Sabie River in the Crocodile Bridge section of the KNP.
While CIS was investigating the incident, a second rhino was killed in the same area and a third two weeks later. Shortly thereafter CIS identified the group and had gathered sufficient information to carry out an operation and make arrests. With this information in place, a cross border operation with the Mozambican and South African Police was undertaken.
The joint operation, at the beginning of November, led to Kaboko, a village at Koromana Dam in Mozambique where two suspects were arrested. An AK47 and a Mosine Nagant rifle, as well as bloodied clothes and other evidence were confiscated.
The suspects confessed to killing the rhinos in KNP and the rhino that was shot in Mozambique in 2003, as well as other armed poaching incidents in the area.
A second operation, based on further information obtained by CIS, took the joint investigative team to Ngungwa village, about 50km north of Koromane Dam. Three more arrests were made and another AK47 and Mosine Nagant rifle were found. "With these arrests we thought the problem had been solved," said Don English of CIS Special Operations.
However, on 22 November and barely two weeks after these arrests were made, two more rhino carcasses were found shot by a second group of poachers in the same area in the Crocodile Bridge section of the Park.
"A joint cross-border follow-up operation into Mozambique in conjunction with the Mozambican Police provided valuable intelligence and arrests are imminent. Furthermore, the success of these operations would not be possible without the support of and excellent working relationship with the Mozambican and South African Police," said Don.