The South African National Parks (SANParks) Environmental Crime Investigation (ECI) team and rangers arrested four suspected poachers in the Kruger National Park (KNP) on Saturday, 10 July 2010.
The suspects were found in possession of two freshly chopped rhino horns, an AK 47 assault and a Mosin Nagant bolt action rifles (both with ammunition) and an axe.
In the course of the operation, rangers found a newly killed rhino carcass with horns already chopped off. The four suspected poachers were found immediately after near the Manyeleti Dam and arrested on the spot.
The four suspects, who are all of Mozambican origin, admitted to having camped in the park overnight. It is suspected that they may be linked to other poaching incidents in the park.
Dr David Mabunda, Chief Executive Officer of SANParks, made a further request to members of the public to continue assisting authorities by reporting any suspicious behaviour.
“It is unfortunate that we could not save this young rhino female in time but are convinced that with the added pressure we are putting in protecting our resources the poachers are feeling the pressure and we will prevail”, said Dr Mabunda.
Another suspect was arrested on Monday, July 12. The suspect was found after the rangers heard a suspicious shot being fired in the park and traced the origin.
The suspect had a hunting rifle in his possession. At the time of reporting no dead animal had been found in the vicinity.
Sending a strong warning, Dr David Mabunda, Chief Executive Officer of SANParks said “poachers and their rich bosses sitting in air-conditioned luxury homes in the leafy suburbs of our metropolitan cities must know we are after them”. ‘We will hunt them in the bushes, in the cities, airports and internationally”.
SANParks and the South African conservation fraternity continues to request the support and cooperation of all members of society in identifying and reporting suspicious behaviour that could lead to the apprehension and conviction of these criminals.