SA arrests three more rhino poachers

10 June 2013

Three more suspected poachers were arrested in the Tshokwane section of the Kruger National Park, South African National Parks (SANParks) announced at the weekend.

During the arrest, a high-calibre hunting rifle, silencer, ammunition and axe were recovered.

The arrest brings to 53 the number of suspected poachers that have been arrested in the world-famous Kruger Park this year.

Of these, 32 were Mozambique nationals, reflecting the predominance of the eastern border of the Park as a source of incursions.

This is further borne out by the fact that, so far this year, 70 percent of rhinos poached have been killed in the eastern sections of the Park, adjacent to the Mozambique border, while 68 percent of those arrested in the Park were of Mozambican origin.

SANParks also announced that Andrew Desmet, the Letaba section ranger who was seriously injured in a shooting incident in the Kruger National Park on 24 May, continues to make progress after undergoing a second medical procedure in hospital.

He was shot during a joint anti-rhino poaching operation with the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in the Letaba region of the Park. Desmet is in a stable condition but remains in the intensive care unit of a Nelspruit hospital.

Investigations into the incident in which Desmet was injured are ongoing, although initial findings have confirmed that he was injured by SANDF fire during the joint operation.

SANParks head of anti-poaching operations, retired major-general Johan Jooste, confirmed that the incident took place during a joint operation, but advised against drawing any conclusions, as the circumstances were still being investigated by the South African Police Service.

“We are all praying for Andrew, and are looking forward to seeing him on the road to recovery. He is not yet able to give us his view on what led to this unfortunate incident,” Jooste said.