3 April 2013

South Africa: Update On Rhino Poaching

press release

A rhino had to be euthanised in the Kruger National Park after she was badly mutilated by poachers a day after a SA Air Force helicopter crashed in the Park claiming the lives of all five soldiers on board.

The SAAF helicopter was participating in a rhino anti-poaching operation on Saturday night when the accident happened. The cause of the accident is being investigated by the SA National Defence Force.

On Sunday, SANParks rangers heard two shots and reacted with the support of the SANParks helicopter. During a brief contact, one armed suspected poacher was arrested. A .375 rifle and silencer were recovered. A badly mutilated rhino cow was found alive close to the scene of the contact. The animal was bleeding profusely from having its horns, entire mouth, tongue, nose and eyes hacked off and had to be euthanised. The search for the alleged poacher's accomplice is continuing.

This brings the number of rhino poached in South Africa since the beginning of the year to 203.

The Kruger National Park remains the hardest hit with 146 rhino having been poached since January. A total of 18 rhino have been killed in North West, 17 have been killed in KwaZulu-Natal, 13 in Limpopo and 10 in Mpumalanga.

A total of 60 people have been arrested, 36 of them in the Kruger National Park. The reduction in the number of arrests can be attributed to the fact that the case against nine alleged poachers arrested near Lephalale in March has been withdrawn in the local Magistrate's Court. This means that cases are being pursued against 11 alleged poachers in the province at present, and not 20 as previously reported. Three alleged couriers were arrested in February.

Fifty-six incursions by alleged rhino poachers were recorded by members of the KNP ranger corps between 21 March and 1 April 2013.

In the shootouts that ensued with poachers, one alleged poachers was fatally wounded on Sunday, while another was believed to have committed suicide on Monday after he was surrounded by members of the ranger corps.

South Africans are urged to report incidents of poaching and tip-offs to the anonymous tip-off lines 0800 205 005, 08600 10111 or Crime-Line on 32211.

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