Two rhino poachers were arrested in the Kruger National Park (KNP) by a combined SANParks, SANDF and SAPS operation on Friday June 3, 2011, shortly after two white rhino were shot and killed and their horns removed in the Nwanetsi area of the KNP.
During the incident one of the suspected poachers was shot and wounded. Two firearms, an AK47 and a .375 heavy calibre hunting rifle, as well as three rhino horns, were recovered.
This incident comes shortly after the successful prosecution of two rhino poachers, Frans Makamu and Solomon Mabuza, who were arrested in separate incidents in 2010 for rhino poaching activities in Kruger.
Both were found guilty for the illegal hunting of rhino, possession of illegal firearms and ammunitions on Wednesday, June 1, 2011. Both accused offered a plea of guilty in the Nelspruit Regional Court. Frans Makamu, who was also found guilty of the possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition, was sentenced to 11 years, while Solomon Mabuza was sentenced to five years imprisonment.
The chief executive officer of SANParks, Dr David Mabunda, said: "The successful joint operation carried out on Friday as well as the recent sentences given to the two convicted rhino poachers will send a clear message to everyone that poaching of wildlife is not tolerated in this country".
This year alone a total of 122 suspected poachers have been arrested around the country, of which 60 of them were arrested in the KNP. Since January this year, throughout the country, 20 suspected poachers have been killed and 10 injured in clashes with authorities. Of this figure, 15 suspected poachers have died and nine wounded during contacts with rangers and soldiers in the KNP alone. To date 173 rhinos have been poached throughout the country, of which 120 were poached in the KNP.