Kruger National Park (KNP) rangers and operators from South African National Parks (Sanparks) corporate investigation services (CIS) shot and killed a poacher during a skirmish in the early hours of Friday December 14, 2007.
The incident happened shortly after midnight when a group of poachers walked into a KNP ranger patrol in the Stolsnek section of the KNP. In the resulting fire-fight, one of the poachers was killed. Rangers from Stolsnek ranger post and the CIS special operations team have been extensively patrolling the area after two rhino carcasses were found in the area in the last two months.
The Stolsnek ranger section is in the south western area of the park between Pretoriuskop and Berg-en-Dal rest camps.
According to inspector Kobus Nel of the South African Police Service in Skukuza, three rhino have also been shot on the farm Morrsidale, adjacent to Kruger. Various weapons, including a highly modified hunting rifle and a home-made shotgun, spotlights and camouflaged uniforms have been confiscated.
Two suspects have been arrested in a follow-up operation that led the police to the village, Tonga on the southern borders of Kruger near the town of Komatipoort. According to inspector Nel, a dog unit of the White River police branch was deployed in the early hours of Saturday, which led the investigating team to the suspects.
The suspects are due to appear in the White River court at the time of going to press.In a strange twist of fate, but unrelated to the shooting, a suspected drug dealer – a Swazi national – and three other accomplices were also arrested on Friday for possession of marijuana. This arrest happened while investigators were busy searching for the escaped poachers. Investigators caught all four suspects red-handed.