Four SanParks officials arrested for poaching

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pretoria - Four South African National Parks (SANParks) officials were arrested on Tuesday in connection with rhino poaching activities.

The arrest of the four Kruger National Parks (KNP) officials, based in the Pretoriuskop section of the park, was a result of a joint investigation by members of SANParks and South African Police Service.

The arrest came after the discovery of two freshly killed rhinos in the Pretoriuskop section of the park. The animals had been shot and their horns removed.

The probe also revealed that one of the suspects, a field ranger, was part of the group of employees who embarked on a strike against SANParks in the KNP.

Other suspects include a member of the Protection Services unit and a traffic officer. This is the second traffic officer in the park to be arrested in connection with rhino poaching activities.

Further investigations into the killing of the two rhinos and other previous rhino poaching incidents in the area are being conducted.

In Pretoriuskop alone, a total of 11 rhinos have been killed since January 2012, bringing the total number of rhinos killed in the KNP this year to 43.

Throughout the country, a total of 80 rhinos have been lost to poaching since the beginning of the year and 50 arrests have been made.

"It is a very sad day for South Africa to find out that the unscrupulous and revolting hands of the poaching syndicates have stretched as far as to taint the hands of those trusted with the great responsibility of being guardians of our natural heritage," said Dr David Mabunda, the Chief Executive Officer of SANParks.

"I am personally saddened to discover that some of our own would so callously abuse the confidence and faith that we have entrusted upon them."

SANParks and the South African conservation fraternity continue to request the support and cooperation of all members of society in identifying and reporting suspicious behaviour that could lead to the apprehension and conviction of those involved in rhino poaching.

SANParks have established a crime line in order to improve the level of cooperation with the public as well as to make access for would-be informers much easier.

For tip-offs, please call 082 908 3053 or send an e-mail to antipoaching@sanparks.org.

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