Law enforcement officials, together with members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), are conducting daily operations in the Kruger National Park, as part of their anti-poaching campaign.
“The aim of the operation is to work against the criminality that is taking place. We are verifying the permits of guests, staff and contractors, as well as everyone who has access to the park,” South African National Parks (SANParks) Head of Protection Services, Victor Nxumalo said.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday at the park, Nxumalo said officials search for contrabands, firearms and any item that can be utilised to do rhino poaching in the park.
“We are fighting crime. These operations are generated from the Mission Area Joint Operation Centre (MAJOC) which is the joint operation centre situated in Skukuza. We work with the South African Police Service (SAPS), SANDF and the protection services from the Kruger National Park, as well as traffic officers who work with us to address the violations in the National Road Traffic Act,” he said.
MAJOC co-ordinates operations against rhino poaching by all affected government institutions. These also include the Departments of Environmental Affairs and Provincial Conservation Agencies.
The operations also include the K-9 unit which search for rhino horn, ammunition and explosives that might be brought in by the criminals.
Within Skukuza there is a magistrate’s court and police cells.
These operations are making progress in the fight against poaching as courts in the Mpumalanga region have had 100% conviction rate.
According to the SAPS, over 360 suspected rhino poachers have, in the past six, months been handed ranging sentences as authorities continue to combat the scourge.
The arrests were a culmination of investigations by the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure’s Operation Rhino 9 Task Team responsible for prevention, combatting and investigating the crime.
National police spokesperson Vishnu Naidoo said in a statement recently that of the 365 suspects arrested, 165 remain in custody while court processes unfolded.
During this period, six were deported to their countries of origin while 11 received fines and 57 are serving their various jail terms.
SANParks senior investigator for environmental crimes unit Frik Rossouw said rhino poaching in the park is on the decrease.
“We are managing the poaching much better than we were five years ago, we have better equipped people on the ground. We have less rhino but …. We are winning the battle,” he said.
Recently four rhinos were killed and their horns were removed in the park. – SAnews.gov.za