On June 14, rangers in the Kruger National Park (KNP) wounded a suspected rhino poacher. He was shot in the arm, hip and shoulder.
The incident occurred in the Vlakteplaas section where the suspect walked into an ambush set by the rangers.
Rangers first noticed suspicious tracks in the section on Sunday June 13 during a routine patrol. On Monday, while tracking the spoor, they heard a gunshot which led them to a fresh rhino carcass with its horn removed.
More gunshots closer to the rangers alerted their attention to a man walking in the distance. They remained still until they heard the sound of an axe. They positioned themselves in ambush and waited. After removing the second horn, the suspect left the scene in the direction where the rangers were lying in wait.
As soon as he realised he was surrounded, he opened fire, which the rangers returned, wounding him in the process.
According to the tracks more people may have been in the area, but they were not found.
The suspect was taken to Malamulele Hospital and is under guard while further investigations continue. “We wish to send a strong warning to other poachers that this is war. We are prepared to fight; we cannot allow these heartless and senseless killings of rhino to continue,”said the KNP’s head of department: public relations, William Mabasa.
“Please stay away from the Park as the rangers and Environmental Crime Investigations unit will do everything to ensure we mean business in dealing with this.
“We would also like to urge the public to report any information that may assist us to stop poachers before they enter the park and this information can be given to the nearest police station.” concluded Mabasa.