Five suspected rhino poachers have been arrested – by one brave Ranger – in the Kruger National Park (KNP) this weekend, according to the South African National Parks (SANParks). The poachers were in the Malelane Section. Sadly the arrests – on Saturday 23 November – came after the poachers had already killed at least two rhino, rather than before.
SANParks said the arrests came following an Intelligence-driven operation.
The suspects were in possession of five fresh rhino horns, a high calibre hunting rifle, ammunition and poaching equipment. The vehicle they were travelling in – a kombi – has also been impounded for further investigation.
The arrests followed the discovery of two fresh rhino carcasses in the Malelane section. The dead rhinos had been covered with grass and twigs to try hide them from sight, and delay their discovery.
The Section Ranger immediately deployed his rangers around the area to look for possible vehicles that might be ferrying the suspects.
A suspicious kombi with two visible passengers, not far from the scene, was stopped. The Ranger became suspicious when, while checking their permit (which was for two people) he noticed others hiding out of sight.
He then instructed the driver to get out of the kombi with his hands in the air, and open the rear door to expose the other passengers.
SANParks says the Ranger then loudly instructed them to lie on the floor with the driver. He handcuffed three and whilst arresting the fourth, that suspect then pointed out a fifth suspect whose gun was pointed at the Section Ranger!
Fortunately the suspect failed to pull the trigger and the Section Ranger was able to call for back-up. However he had already single-handedly made the arrests.
The suspects are in custody and SANParks is not ruling out further arrests. They will appear in court to face rhino poaching related charges in due course.
The CEO of SANParks, Fundisile Mketeni has congratulated the team on the arrests and continued to warn criminals that KNP is ready to stop them in their tracks.
“We are thankful that one Ranger managed to subdue five criminals without any harm unto himself and continue to warn those who intend poaching in the KNP that our dedicated staff, technology and information from communities will lead to your incarceration. We won’t stop until all criminals are removed from society,” said Mketeni.