South Africa’s rhino war rages on as seven rhino poachers were killed following a series of four shootouts with rangers in the Kruger National Park this weekend.
Most of the shootouts took place at night after poaching gangs crossed the border from Mozambique.
Eleven suspected poachers have been killed this month by South African National Parks (SANParks) rangers and members of the SA Defence Force.
Since the start of 2014, 40 rhinos have been killed by poachers inside the Kruger National Park, following the record high number of 1 004 rhinos killed nationwide last year.
By the end of 2013, a total number of 343 poaching arrests had been made across the country. In the Kruger National Park, 133 people were arrested for rhino poaching-related offences.
Mozambique has come under fire as over 80% of the incursions are from the Mozambican side. At least 15 heavily armed groups operate in the KNP at any given time, especially during the full moon period.
Major General (RET) Johan Jooste, the Officer Commanding of the Rangers Corp, remains optimistic.
“We brought down the level of poaching incidents last year to 42.6% from 72.6% the previous year,” he said in a statement issued on behalf of SANParks.
However, Johan urged the South African public to do their part, “we would like to ask the public, law enforcement agencies and our counterparts in Mozambique, to play their part, match the work that is being done by the Rangers and we will reap the rewards and win this war”.
Over the weekend, rangers confiscated four hunting rifles, ammunition, poaching equipment and a pair of horns.