NATIONAL NEWS - The death and arrest of these respective suspected poachers took place on April 17. The deceased and his accomplices were fleeing from rangers when they ran into a breeding herd of elephants.
Field rangers were out on a routine patrol in the Phabeni area when they detected incoming spoor and followed up in pursuit of the suspectS.
Three individuals were spotted by the rangers and attempted to run away. The rangers requested backup from the airwing and K9 unit. When the suspects realised they had been spotted, they dropped an axe and a bag with their provisions in an attempt to escape.
One of the suspects was arrested following assistance from the airwing and K9 unit. The suspect informed the rangers that the group had run into a herd of elephants and he was not sure if his accomplices had managed to escape.
The rangers discovered one accomplice badly trampled and he had succumbed to his injuries. The third suspect sustained an eye injury but continued to flee.
A rifle was recovered and the case was referred to police who, together with the pathology team, attended to the scene.
The managing executive of the KNP, Gareth Coleman, congratulated all those involved in the arrests. “We are proud of the teamwork and dedication of our ranger corps, 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 to 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 of us; it threatens many livelihoods, destroys families and takes much-needed resources to fight crime which could be used for creating jobs and development,” concluded Coleman.