A suspected poacher in the Kruger National Park was killed yesterday by elephants whilst fleeing from South African National Parks (SANParks) rangers. One of his accomplices was successfully arrested. A third suspect escaped, although injured by the elephants.
SANParks said in a statement today that the deceased and his two accomplices were fleeing from rangers when they sprinted into a breeding herd of elephants.
“Field Rangers were out on a routine patrol at the Phabeni area when they detected incoming spoor and made a follow-up in pursuit of the suspects,” said SANParks in a statement on Sunday. “Three individuals were spotted by the Rangers and attempted to run away, but Rangers requested back-up from the Airwing and K9 unit.”
When the poaching suspects realised they had been spotted, they dropped an axe and a bag with their provisions in and attempted to escape from the rangers, said SANParks.
Thanks to the assistance of the Airwing and K9 unit, one suspect was arrested. He informed the rangers that the group had run into a herd of elephants and that he was not sure if his accomplice had managed to escape.
The Rangers discovered his accomplice badly trampled. The suspected poacher had unfortunately already succumbed to his injuries, said SANParks.
The third suspect is said to have been injured in the eye but continued to flee. A rifle was recovered and the case was immediately referred to police who attended to the scene, together with the pathology team.
The Managing Executive of the Kruger, Gareth Coleman, congratulated all those involved in the arrest.
He said: “We are proud of the teamwork and dedication of our Rangers Corp, our aviators and the K9 unit. It is unfortunate that a life was unnecessarily lost. Only through discipline, teamwork and tenacity will we be able help stem the tide of rhino poaching in KNP.”
The search for the third suspect is underway. Coleman has called on the community members living close to the KNP to assist with information. “The campaign against poaching is the responsibility of all us; it threatens many livelihoods, destroys families and takes much needed resources to fight crime, which could be used for creating jobs and development,” said Coleman.