JOHANNESBURG, March 21 – South African National Parks (SANParks) on Tuesday said a Field Ranger has been killed in what appears to be an accidental shooting.
“The incident happened at Lower Sabie in the Kruger National Park (KNP), where the Field Ranger was based and details are still sketchy at this stage, but the South African Police Service (SAPS) are investigating the incident,” said William Mabasa, SANParks acting head of communications.
Commenting on the incident, Chief Executive Officer of SANParks Fundisile Mketeni said: “We are saddened by the death of one of our hard working colleague and pass our sincerest condolences to his family and his associates, this is a big blow to the Rangers Corps, the SANParks family and the anti-poaching campaign”.
Mketeni added: “We will continue where he left off to ensure the safety of our natural assets”.
The fatal shooting incident occurred after a two-day operation in which nine suspected rhino poachers were arrested and four high calibre rifles seized.
“On the 19th March three suspected poachers were arrested by Rangers with the assistance of the K9 unit in Pretoriuskop, a .458 rifle with a silencer, ammunition and an axe, a fresh set of rhino horns and other poaching equipment was recovered,” said Mketeni.
“Shortly thereafter in Stolznek, Rangers made contact with two suspected poachers, one was apprehended while his accomplice managed to escape. A .458 rifle with a silencer, ammunition and other poaching equipment was confiscated.”
The SANParks chief executive said in another successful swoop four suspected rhino poachers were arrested and two rhino horns were seized. The suspects were found in possession of poaching equipment, ammunition and a heavy calibre rifle.
Mketeni said the Crocodile Bridge Rangers conducted a follow up operation and managed to arrest a suspected poacher in possession of a heavy calibre rifle and ammunition.
“We are proud of the work that is being done by our colleagues in the field, this shows the commitment and dedication to their task,” said Mketeni.
“We are also grateful that most come back safe to continue the campaign on behalf of all South Africans and the entire globe that visit this part of the world to witness these magnificent prehistoric animals in their natural habitat,
“We will continue where our colleagues who have succumbed to their injuries in the line of duty have left off. To the poachers, be warned, we have eyes all over the park and we will catch you and take your freedom away.”
– African News Agency (ANA)