anti-poaching officer Archives - Rhino Review

KZN police on the hunt for fleeing rhino poachers (South Africa)

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The Independent Online | March 18, 2020

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DURBAN: Police have launched a manhunt for a group of poachers who abandoned their vehicle and fled into bushes in the KwaZulu-Natal area of KwaMsane in the early hours on Wednesday morning.

According to police spokesperson, Captain Nqobile Gwala, police were conducting crime prevention duties in the early hours of the morning when they saw a vehicle on the N2 freeway.

“When the suspects spotted the police they abandoned their vehicle and fled the scene on foot into nearby bushes. Police officers searched the vehicle and recovered an unlicensed 303 rifle with ten rounds of ammunition, three knives and rope,” Gwala said.

She said the men were believed to have been rhino poachers. Gwala said police are investigating further and trying to trace the men.

Original image from The Independent Online: A group of men, believed to be rhino poachers, fled in the early hours of Wednesday morning after police intercepted their vehicle on the N2 in KwaMsane. Pictured are the items that police recovered from their abandoned vehicle.

Earlier in the week, it was reported that two suspected rhino poachers were shot dead at the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park.

While the two died at the scene, a third person managed to flee. Police recovered a high-calibre hunting rifle and knives which were thought to be used when removing rhino horn. One of the men is believed to be a well-known poacher and had been previously charged for being in possession of rhino horn.

Meanwhile, the DA has called for decisive action to be taken to secure the future of rhinos.

“Ultimately, a strong message must be sent. Poaching gangs must know that force will be met with force, and convictions mean protracted jail sentences. Our rhino do not belong to Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife – they belong to the citizens of our province and country. Decisive action is needed to secure their future,” DA KZN spokesperson on Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Heinz de Boer, said.

He said Ezemvelo rangers and security staff are at the sharp end of this low-key war that plays itself out in the deep bush of our reserves each day and government needed to support their efforts.

“Key to combatting the scourge of poaching is the proper equipping of rangers, a fundamental change in the minimum sentencing criteria for poaching – and the bolstering of support for specialist prosecutors and courts,” he said.

South Africa launches investigation after top poaching investigator murdered

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Africa Times | March 18, 2020

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South African police chief General Khehla Sithole has pledged a comprehensive investigation after the “senseless” killing of decorated anti-poaching officer Lt Col Leroy Brewer.

Brewer, 49, was driving to work in Mbombela around 6:30 am on Tuesday, March 17, when he was ambushed and shot by an undetermined number of gunmen using high-caliber weapons. Investigations at the crime scene yielded several empty cartridges, while three bullet holes were found in the driver’s side window and one in the passenger window behind it. Brewer died at the scene of the crime.

Gen Sithole called the killing a “huge loss” to the South African police force and to the broader community, highlighting Lt Col Brewer’s sterling record: “[The colonel] always excelled in complex cases, particularly related to rhino poaching”.

Brewer’s work investigating powerful poaching syndicates in the Kruger earned him a number of accolades, including being named the best detective in elite anti-organised crime unit the Hawks.

Original image: Africa Times

He was particularly known for his determination to investigate any individuals involved in rhino poaching, including fellow policemen. Brewer’s commitment often put him at odds with less scrupulous colleagues. In 2016, for example, he himself was detained by police while he was trying to arrest two officers for ties to a poaching ring.

Rhino poaching has been declining over the past five years in South Africa as the government has made a notable effort to rein in the practice. A number of the country’s various law enforcement agencies—including the Hawks to which Leroy Brewer belonged, as well as park authorities and customs officials—have collaborated to go after international poaching syndicates, with increasingly impressive results.

In 2019, 564 rhinos were killed for their horns—26% less than in the previous year and less than half the number which were slaughtered in 2014, the peak year for rhino poaching in South Africa.

Despite the encouraging trend, rhino poaching remains a serious problem in South Africa. Organised crime networks have a major financial incentive to go after the endangered species. Rhino horn can fetch as much as $6000 per kilogram on the South African black market—and up to ten times that in Asia, where rhino horn is used in a number of traditional medicines.