Rhino killers struck three times in the past week, twice in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park and once in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. On Monday, field rangers found the de-horned carcases of two White Rhino in the iMfolozi section of the Park. They were lying close together and their horns had been brutally hacked off.

This follows the discovery on Friday by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife field rangers of the de-horned carcase of a young adult male White Rhino in the southern area of the iSimangaliso Park Western Shores.

A post-mortem examination established that the animal was probably shot about a week earlier. And in yet another incident, three suspected rhino poachers were confronted on Tuesday morning inside the Tembe Elephant Park near the Mozambique border.

Challenged by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife field rangers, the suspects opened fire and one was wounded in the ensuing gun battle. He was given emergency medical treatment and taken to hospital in Kwangwanase (Manguzi). The two other suspects were arrested. Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, the SAPS Hawks and Organised Crime Units from Richards Bay and Pietermaritzburg are investigating the cases. The national rhino poaching figure is now 289 and the KZN figure is 27, with 25 rhino poaching suspects arrested in KZN to date.

Despite the latest onslaught, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife CEO Dr Bandile Mkhize is confident the war against poachers can be won. He announced that 18 more field rangers were being deployed to the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park from 1 December and that additional anti-poaching equipment has been issued.

‘We will fight the war against poaching in this province until we win. No retreat. No surrender,’ said Mkhize.

http://www.zululandobserver.co.za

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