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South African National Parks (SANParks) today announced three highly successful operations since Friday morning which led to the arrest of 14 suspected rhino poachers. This brings the total number of poaching suspects arrested in the Kruger National Park (KNP) this year to 113.
In a joint operation with members of the South African Police Services (SAPS) on the morning of Friday, 17th October, SANParks Rangers stopped a suspicious vehicle near Skukuza and arrested 5 suspects. A .375 hunting rifle, ammunition and poaching equipment as well as a vehicle were confiscated in the operation.
Later on during the afternoon of the same day, three other suspects were arrested in the Malelane area. During this operation SANParks Rangers, whilst on patrol in this section of the KNP, noticed a suspicious vehicle suspected to be involved in rhino poaching activities.
On Saturday, 18th October, in the Punda Maria section of the KNP, shortly after sunrise, a joint SANParks and SAPS deployment, supported by South African National Defence Force (SANDF) air wing, made contact with three suspected poachers. During the engagement, two of the suspects were seriously wounded and arrested while the third was arrested unharmed. The two wounded suspects were immediately taken to hospital where one later died of his injuries. The remaining wounded suspect is currently receiving treatment under police guard in hospital. A hunting rifle, ammunition and poaching equipment were also recovered at the scene. Further follow up investigations in all three operations are currently underway.
Reacting to the arrests, the SANParks Officer Commanding in the KNP Major General (RET) Johan Jooste, commended all the forces involved in the successful operations. “We are in a volatile area that is under tremendous pressure and every time our joint forces make these arrests we are encouraged. This confirms that united we can conquer this scourge of rhino poaching. I am eternally grateful to the cooperation and dedication of these men and women in uniform who face huge challenges in their daily operations but continue to be dedicated to the cause of protecting our natural assets from greedy poaching syndicates,” concluded Jooste.