A suspected poacher, trying to escape field rangers, was trampled to death by breeding elephants in the Kruger National Park on Saturday, 17 April.
SANParks said they arrested one accomplice, another managed to evade them and the third ran straight into a a herd of elephants and was killed.
“Field Rangers were out on a routine patrol at the Phabeni area when they detected incoming spoor and made a follow up in pursuit of the suspects. Three individuals were spotted by the Rangers and attempted to run away, but Rangers requested back-up from the Airwing and K9 unit. When they realised they had been spotted, the suspected poachers dropped an axe and a bag with their provisions in an attempt to escape from the rangers,” said SANParks in a statement.
The first suspect 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 was not sure if his accomplice had managed to escape. The Rangers discovered his accomplice badly trampled and who had unfortunately succumbed to his injuries. The third suspect is said to have been injured in the eye but continued to flee. A rifle was recovered and the case was referred to police, whom together with the pathology team attended to the scene,” they said.
Community urged to come forward to locate poacher
Gareth Coleman, Managing Executive of the KNP, congratulated the team on their exemplary work – “we are proud of the teamwork and dedication of our Rangers Corp, 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 help stem the tide of rhino poaching in KNP.”
Community members in the area are urged to come forward if they have information with regards to the third suspect.
Coleman said the campaign against poaching is the responsibility of everyone as it threatens livelihoods, destroys families and abuses resources needed to fight crime.
According to a report released by SANParks earlier this year, there are just 3 529 white rhinos and 268 black rhinos left in the Kruger National Park.