Cape Town - While 2016 ended steeped in allegations of high ranking officials colluding with poachers, 2017 has certainly gotten off to a better start.
South African National Parks (SANParks confirmed the arrest of the 11 suspects in anti-poaching operations on Monday, its certainly a good start. inside and outside the Kruger National Park (KNP).
The arrests were carried out by the SANParks Rangers Corps, South African Police Services (SAPS) and the Directorate of Priority Crime Investigations (DPCI) also known as the Hawks.
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The first arrests took place in the Malelane area outside the KNP, where six suspects were taken into custody and a high caliber firearm and ammunition confiscated. A second SAPS operation in the Hazyview area 57 km’s outside KNP resulted in the recovery of six rhino horns.
Inside the KNP, Satara Rangers managed to arrest three suspected rhino poachers in a follow up operation and recovered a fire arm, ammunition and poaching equipment.
In the Stolsnek Section of the iconic national park, Rangers managed to arrest two suspects after discovering a freshly poached rhino carcass. A rifle, ammunition and poaching equipment were also recovered.
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Reacting to the news, the Chief Ranger in the KNP Nicholus Funda congratulated all the units involved in the arrests saying, “our mission to achieve success in fighting this scourge is based on teamwork and support within all law enforcement agencies, communities and our neighboring private reserves. The resultant arrests of 11 individuals in one single day, is a good start to the year and will demonstrate to the crime syndicates that we are serious about ending this cruel attack on our heritage as a collective and are determined to protect our fauna and flora."
Despite South Africa's rhino poaching figures dropping for the first time in six years in 2015, Africa’s rhinos are still in dire straits. More than 1 300 rhinos were killed across the continent in 2015, according to TRAFFIC, a wildlife monitoring group - with an estimated 363 poached rhinos as of May 2016, according to the DEA.
Have something to report? The KNP’s emergency numbers are: 013 735 0197 and 076 801 9679.
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