South African NationalParks shared information about several recent incidents involving rhino poaching suspects in Kruger National Park, two of which were killed. In one of the three cases, a dehorned rhino was also sadly found dead.
During the first incident which occurred on October 15th,members of the Rangers Corp were tracking spoor when they startled two suspected poachers, who then tried to flee. Assisted by the K9 Unit and the Aviators of the Airwing, the suspects were apprehended at the Stolznek section of the Park.
A high calibre hunting rifle, ammunition, and poaching equipment were seized at the scene. The suspects will appear in court in due course while investigations continue.
The second incident took place the next day on October 16th. This time, Rangers were following up after hearing gunshots and stumbled upon two more suspected poachers. The suspect who had a rifle, was fatally wounded. A backpack with two rhino horns was recovered next to his body along with a high calibre rifle and poaching equipment. The other suspect managed to evade arrest.
Tragically, a carcass of a male black rhino was also found nearby, indicating that his horns had been removed and were most-likely those in the backpack.
Meanwhile, the Skukuza Regional Court sentenced Simon Lubisi to an effective 19 years in custody for previously killing and dehorning a rhino in the Crocodile Bridge Section of the Park along with other suspects.
One poacher was fatally wounded when he shot at rangers and the three other accused were apprehended and granted bail upon their appearance before a Magistrate. They all absconded, but fortunately, Lubisi was arrested again in the Park and stood trial, resulting in the conviction and sentencing on Thursday, October 14th.
The Managing Executive of Kruger National Park, Gareth Coleman congratulated the anti-poaching teams for their weekend success and the prosecuting team on the conviction and sentencing of Lubisi.
“We are saddened to have lost a rhino over the weekend, but are encouraged by the brave actions of our multi-disciplinary anti-poaching teams who successfully took out two rifles from the system and apprehended suspects who are now in custody,” said Coleman in a statement.
“We also appreciate the heavy sentences that the Skukuza Regional Court has been handing down recently. It gives motivation to all those who work tirelessly to arrest the suspects found in the Park,” concluded Coleman. “The kingpins are still out there and we hope they get arrested soon to face the might of the law for their criminality.”
For this reporting period, July – September 28, 2021, there has been an increase of 29.41% in the number of poachers arrested, 22 as compared to 17 for the same time period in 2020.
There has been an increase of 85.71% in the number of poacher firearms recovered, 13 as compared to seven for the same time period in 2020.
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