BY MATHIAS RINGA
South African National Parks has announced the arrest of 23 suspected rhino poachers in the world famous Kruger National Park (KNP).
The South African wildlife conservation body has intensified the war against poaching in the popular park after the loss of a ranger, Respect Mathebula, on July 19.
Mr Mathebula became the second ranger casualty since 1958 involving a poacher contact in the Kruger National Park.
In a statement on Monday, the KNP managing executive, Glenn Phillips, commended the work of the rangers, saying they were resilient in the aftermath of the tragic loss of their colleague .
“The arrests are a sign that the spirit of Respect is being honoured by the Rangers Corps. Further to this, the fact that no poachers were wounded or killed in these contacts is a clear demonstration of the professionalism and discipline that embodies our Ranger Corps,” Mr Phillips said.
“There has been relentless poacher activity since his passing, with 156 activities reported and that include contacts.
“We are still making a plea to our neighbouring communities to help us in this fight by exposing those who are exploiting their children, husbands and relatives to illegally hunt rhino.
“These people do not have the welfare of the communities at heart, but are criminals without a conscience and they need to be put behind bars for a long time for their criminal acts.”
The 23 suspects were in possession of 10 high calibre rifles and poaching equipment. They will face charges related to poaching and possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition.