Estelle Sinkins, The Witness | June 5, 2021
Four men, believed to be poachers, have been caught by the South African National Parks (SANParks) anti-poaching unit.
In a statement the park authority said “well executed operations” led to the arrest of four suspected poachers on Sunday, May 30 in the Pretoriuskop Section and on Monday, May 31 in the Houtboschrand Section, both located in the south of the Kruger National Park.
In the first operation, rangers (with K9 support) responded to a visual sighting of two suspected poachers and set off in pursuit of them. The Airwing Unit was called in to support the ground teams, and, soon thereafter, two men were arrested.
The following day, tracks of suspected poachers were picked up by rangers (with K9 support) who followed them. A fire-fight ensued between the rangers and the suspects, during which one alleged poacher was fatally wounded.
With the help of a helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft, and support from additional K9s and free running hounds, the remaining two men were caught and placed under arrest.
During both operations, a high calibre hunting rifle, ammunition and poaching equipment was seized.
The suspected poachers were handed over to the South African Police Service and are expected to appear in court in due course.
KNP head ranger, Cathy Dreyer congratulated those who were involved in the operations, saying: “We are proud of the teamwork and dedication of our rangers corp, our aviators and the K9 units, who execute our anti-poaching efforts in extremely difficult conditions.
“We are aware that poachers are currently targeting weekends for their misdeeds in the mistaken belief that rangers do not work during that time.
“Only through discipline, teamwork and tenacity will we be able help stem the tide of rhino poaching in KNP and we have members of our teams in the field all day all week 24/7, who have vowed to protect and conserve our fauna and flora.”