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South African National Parks (SANParks) today announced the arrest of six suspected poachers and the fatal wounding of two others in two separate operations. In the first operation, Crocodile Bridge Rangers made contact with three suspected rhino poachers. In the ensuing pursuit, two were fatally wounded and the third managed to escape back into Mozambique. A hunting rifle, ammunition and other hunting equipment was recovered on the scene.
In the second operation, six suspects were arrested by the SANParks Environmental Crime Investigative Unit, with the support of the SAPS, in a follow up operation outside the western boundary of the Kruger National Park (KNP). A hunting rifle, ammunition and two cars were confiscated. The arrests follow two weeks of successful operations, resulting in 35 suspected poachers being taken into custody and brings the total arrests in the KNP for the month of October to a record 54.
The KNP has experienced an increase in armed incursions recently, resulting in 14 contacts between armed poaching gangs and Joint Forces consisting of SANParks Rangers, SAPS and SANDF.
The latest arrests bring the total for the year within the KNP to 144. This is the highest number of suspected poachers arrested in the KNP to date.
Commenting on the latest situation in the KNP, the Acting Chief Executive of SANParks, Dr Nomvuselelo Songelwa, praised the actions of the SANParks rangers, and the SAPS and SANDF forces engaged in the fight against rhino poaching: “I would like to thank the men and women of our Joint Forces for the courage and tenacity they have shown in the fight to safeguard the rhino population in the KNP. We are very proud of them and their actions. We are focused on winning this war at all costs and I can promise South Africans that we will leave nothing to chance in protecting our rhino in this iconic park and in our other national parks” concluded Songelwa.