South African National Parks, in three successful operations in the Kruger National Park, arrested six suspected poachers since the beginning of October.
Three heavy-calibre hunting rifles were confiscated and the majority of suspects were arrested before shooting any animals. In the same period there were no elephants poached, despite 55 recorded poacher activities.
The successful operations are attributed to the dedication and efficiency of the Ranger Corps, closely supported by rapid-reaction K9, aircraft units and applied hi-tech detection technologies, says SANParks.
CEO of SANParks, Fundisile Mketeni, commended all those involved in the operations: “We are still miles away from being on top of this campaign but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Our investment in technology and intelligence gathering means the risk to poachers has increased and they know that if we pick up their spoor, they will lose their freedom.”
He said the Ranger Corps, K9 and Airwing units were working relentlessly in a co-ordinated approach that was being continually refined to counter the threat posed by the poaching syndicates.
Mketeni urged communities to continue providing vital information to assist in curbing the scourge of poaching. He warned criminals that they were constantly under scrutiny and would soon end up behind bars if they did not stop their illegal activities. He cautioned communities to stop supporting the bush meat trade, which has seen an increase in snares in the KNP.
The arrested suspects are detained at the Skukuza Police Station and will appear in court in due course.
In the first six months of this year, 22 alleged poachers had been arrested within the Kruger National Park, while a total of 61 firearms were recovered during operations in the park over this period, according to South Africa's Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy.