Rhino poaching South Africa
Rhino Poaching. Photo: iStockPhoto / Alberto Masnovo

An alert tourist’s actions have led to the successful arrest of three suspected rhino poachers in SA’s famous Kruger National Park.

The tourist, who had been travelling on the road between Malelane and Skukuza on Friday (1 July), heard two gunshots… and immediately reported it to the Malelane Ranger, South African National Parks (SANParks) confirmed today.

Sadly it was too late for the rhino, but at least it was in time to catch the suspects red-handed.

After the tourist’s report, a helicopter, K9 and rangers were immediately dispatched to the location (north of Afsaal). From the helicopter, crew spotted one fresh Rhino carcass and an injured Rhino lying beside it. Further investigations revealed a further two Rhino carcasses close by. (Sadly, the injured rhino had to be put down due to the serious bullet injuries it had sustained.)

A second helicopter and Rangers were dispatched to collect the free-running hounds, while the first helicopter deployed Rangers and a K9 to locate the tracks exiting from the scene. The Rangers and K9 continued to follow the outgoing tracks for a few kilometres, after which the free-running hounds were released to continue with the follow up.

The hounds indicated a specific area where three suspects were found and arrested.

SANParks said the suspects are all from Mozambique and were in the country illegally. They were found in possession of a high calibre hunting rifle, ammunition, horns from three rhinos, cell phones and other poaching equipment.

The three will face charges related to the incident in due course once the SA Police Services have finalised their investigation including establishing whether the alleged offenders have previously been involved in other similar or different crimes.

KNP Managing Executive, Gareth Coleman, congratulated all the anti- poaching teams on the success, and thanked the tourist for their actions which led to the arrests, saying “being our ears and eyes is very important in this difficult anti-poaching campaign. The KNP is vast and Rangers can’t be everywhere therefore it is crucial for anyone who notices anything suspicious, to report immediately to assist the Rangers in reacting swiftly. It is critical that such activities are reported directly to SANParks Ranger Services or management rather than reporting on social media,” said Coleman.