SANParks says it has kicked off the new year on a positive note, arresting seven suspected rhino poachers in the first nine days of 2020.
On January 2, three suspected poachers were arrested in the Lower Sabie/Skukuza area during a day-long operation conducted by rangers, K9 support and air wing rapid reaction units.
“During the contact, which happened just before last light, a heavy calibre hunting rifle, ammunition and poaching equipment were recovered,” SANParks said in a statement.
On January 7, three more suspects were arrested by the Stolznek and Pretoriuskop ranger team supported by K9 and air wing rapid reaction units.
“This group was found in possession of a high calibre hunting rifle, ammunition and poaching equipment.”
One more arrest was made on January 9 during another crackdown operation in the Tshokwane section of the park.
The seven suspects have since been handed over to the police who will investigate the case. They will be appearing in court soon.
SANParks CEO Fundisile Mketeni called on residents to co-operate with the authorities by providing information that would aid with this campaign.
“These criminals reside in our neighbouring villages and we urge our neighbours to help us save jobs and create opportunities through tourism because people come to the park to see these magnificent animals and if we lose them through the actions of these selfish individuals, we won’t be an attraction anymore,” Mketeni said.
He also commended the teams for their work.
“Congratulations to the entire SANParks team. We thank you for your dedication, obedience and tenacity and we wish you a successful 2020.”