SKUKUZA – On Friday January 13, anti-poaching operations in and outside the Kruger National Park (KNP) led to 11 suspected poachers being arrested.
The SANParks Rangers Corps, SAPS, and the Hawks took part in the operations.
Six suspects were arrested in the Malalane and Hectorspruit areas outside the KNP.
Satara rangers arrested three suspected rhino poachers.
In the Stolsnek area, rangers arrested two men after discovering a freshly poached carcass.
Various firearms, ammunition, and poaching equipment were recovered.
One of the suspects arrested in Hectorspruit is a police reservist, and one a former traffic official.
KNP’s head ranger, Mr Ken Maggs, said losing even a single rhino or elephant to poachers was one too many.
“We win battles along the way but the so-called war is still far from won. We are, however, beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Maggs.
Referring to the successes outside the park, he explained that communities play a big role in assisting KNP rangers.
“We need people on the outside also to get involved. We need to be clearing the park from the outside.”
Far fewer rhinos were poached in the KNP in 2016 than in 2015.
It is especially noticeable in the southern part of the KNP. During December, poaching was signficantly down compared with the same month in 2015.
“There were a few real game changers. We stopped doing things the same way, went back to basics, and worked in a disciplined way, striving to improve every day. No single technology or tactic is likely to work on its own and it is generally the sum of all of that that will make the difference in the end. We need a combination of force multipliers to have exponential growth in our successes.
“It is a relentless fight, every day, all day. The threat goes on and on. A few factors will keep on counting in the long run. Our alliance partnerships are critical.”
He pointed out that despite the steady rise in poaching activities, the actual number of rhinos poached has decreased.
“If you speak to the SAPS they will tell you this is organised crime at its best. We are doing well, considering what we are up against. Going forward this year, we will be honing our skills. Our commitment and dedication from our rangers are intact, but we understand the impact that the ongoing anti-poaching battles are having on them and their families. We rate our rangers as the best in Africa and will strive to keep this so,” he concluded.
* A total of 622 rhinos was poached in the Kruger National Park in 2016. Since the beginning of this year the tally stands at 21.These figures were placed on record in the Nelspruit Magistrate’s Court by senior state advocate, Ms Isabet Erwee, on Wednesday. It formed part of aggravating factors in support of a heavy sentence for convicted poacher Simon Ngubane. Two hundred and fifty rhinos were poached in the park 2011, 425 in 2012, 606 in 2013, 538 in 2014 and 826 in 2015. The number in 2016 dropped by 204 compared to 2015.