An Ongoing Battle
Rhino poachers are becoming increasingly merciless, leaving rhinos to die after removing their horns. Due to the increasing rate at which rhinos are being poached in the Kruger Park, South African legal authorities have tightened the ropes on punishment. Vigorous efforts are being made to patrol the park and keep a watch for poachers. Park rangers are being trained to spot suspicious activity and to confront poachers without putting themselves in danger. A poacher responsible for the death of three rhino calves in the park in 2011 was sentenced to 77 years in jail in 2014 – a record sentence in response to three poached rhinos and the illegal possession of firearms.
The total amount of rhino killed in 2013 was 1 004, with the year 2014 rapidly setting a new record. On 17 August 2014, a total amount of 659 rhino had been poached, with the numbers inevitably increasing. A total of 227 poachers had been arrested between January and 10 September 2014.
The Fight Against Poachers
In the past, attempts have been made to curb rhino poaching by strengthening the security measures in the park. No mercy has been granted to those who are caught in the act of murdering, or attempting to murder, mature rhinos or calves. South African soldiers killed three poachers in the Houtbosrand area in the Kruger National Park (KNP) on Wednesday, May 18 2011.
Together with rangers of the KNP, they were on a joint patrol of the area north of the Olifants River in the park when they came in to contact with the suspects.
A shoot-out ensued in which the suspects were wounded and later died. The operational team recovered an AK47 rifle, a 458 hunting rifle, and axes at the scene according to Wanda Mkutshulwa, SANParks' Head of Communications.
In March 2011, the South African Defence Force deployed 165 troops to patrol the international border on Kruger's eastern border, with specific emphasis being placed on the recent surge in rhino poaching in South Africa and in the KNP in particular.
According to SANParks chief executive David Mabunda in a statement, 71 rhinos have been killed at SANParks reserves since the beginning of 2011, while 333 rhino deaths were recorded in 2010.
Since the beginning of January 2011, 173 rhinos had been poached throughout the country, 122 suspects arrested and 20 suspects killed.
Since the beginning of January 2011, 173 rhinos have been poached throughout the country, 122 suspects arrested and 20 suspects killed.
The war against rhino poaching kicked off early in January 2014 when 11 suspected rhino poachers were killed by SANParks rangers and members of SANDF. Suspects reportedly crossed the border from Mozambique to slaughter rhino.
A total amount of 40 rhino were killed in Kruger around the time. The number of rhino that have been killed since January 2014 is at a staggering number of 730.
According to major Johan Jooste, although rangers are doing their utmost best to fight the evil known as rhino poaching, the battle is far from victorious. "Are we winning the war? I would say not yet...the war in the bush is only 20% of the fight against rhino poaching," he said.