Latest figures for rhino poaching in South Africa shows that so far this year 419 rhinos have been killed for their horns. The press statement also revealed that a former wildlife ranger and 2 police officers based at the Skukuza police station in the Kruger National Park have been arrested in connection with helping rhino poachers.
The arrests, made yesterday, followed an intelligence-led operation and resulted in the arrest of a former SANParks sergeant in the ranger service and two police constables based at the Kruger National Park.
Members of South African HAWKS – the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation – where out on a patrol with park rangers when they found a black rhino that had been killed and de-horned. Following on the spot investigations they received information about a police van that had been seen in the area.
The van was found and pulled over. Investigators discovered that the van was carrying a suspected poacher and a hunting rifle with a silence, ammunition and other poaching equipment. The constables in the van could not provide an adequate reason for carrying the suspected poacher and were arrested.
Minister for Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, welcomed news of the arrest and said, “The SANParks and SAPS officials who performed the arrests are congratulated for their outstanding work. The arrest sends a strong message that officials alleged to be involved in poaching will be arrested and face the full might of the law,”
The Head of the Hawks in Mpumalanga, Major General Simon Mapyane, applauded the team under the stewardship of Colonel Johan Brits for work well done. “Colonel Brits is going on pension this Friday, 30 May 2014, after serving the police for 39 years and eight days. He is leaving a mark and has handed the mantle to the team,” he said.
“The suspects were tasked with the responsibility to patrol the streets around the park and to confront suspicious vehicles. It is clear that these members were doing the opposite,” added General Mapyane.
The two officers are set to be charged with corruption.
The Officer Commanding of the SANParks Rangers Corps, Major General (RET) Johan Jooste commended all the units that were involved in the arrests of the suspects. He added that the war was intensifying but the men and women in uniform were certainly up to the task.
“The incursions are now relentless and taking their toll on our resources, but we have men and women that are dedicated and fully committed to the cause, they are determined to win this war,” said Maj Gen (ret) Jooste.
The latest poaching statistics for rhino in South Africa are: