South Africa’s Kruger National Park (SANParks) has carried out several anti-poaching operations the past weekend which left three suspected poachers shot dead and yielding nine arrests.
SANParks rangers arrested three suspects on Friday, with one of them being identified as “a recently retired Frelimo Commander who was in full camouflage uniform” when he was nabbed. High caliber hunting rifle, ammunition, poaching equipment and a fresh set of rhino horns were found in the suspects’ possessions.
The next day, rangers, assisted by a dog detector unit, also tracked another trio of suspected poachers. The new batch was also arrested. One of the suspects was fatally wounded during the encounter.
Then just on Sunday, another shootout ensued between rangers and more suspected poachers. One of the suspects was fatally wounded during the shootout while the other one was wounded and arrested. Also recovered from the scene were a heavy caliber hunting rifle, ammunition, poaching equipment and two fresh rhino horns.
A member of the SA Police Service stationed at Skukuza in Mpumalanga was also arrested for his alleged involvement with rhino poaching activities in the SANParks.
Poaching remains a serious problem in SANParks even though the rate of poaching rhinos has gone down by 20%. Last year, 509 rhinos and 67 elephants were killed.
On the other hand, the number of elephants being targeted has gone up. It is alarming because the last time elephant poaching was popular in the Kruger National Park was more than three decades ago, in the 1980s.
Various government agencies including SANParks, South Africa Police Service, the South African National Defense Force, Nehawu and Hospersa made a pledge last week to actively fight wildlife crime.
South Africa’s wildlife is part of the top tourist attractions that draw crowds from all over the world.