On Sunday the South African National Parks (SANParks) reported that a suspected poacher ran away from field rangers into a herd of breeding elephants. The suspect was badly trampled by the herd and succumbed to his injuries.
According to the statement, field rangers were out on a routine patrol at the Phabeni area when they detected incoming spoor and made a follow up in pursuit of the suspects. Three individuals were spotted by the Rangers and attempted to run away, but Rangers requested backup from the Airwing and K9 unit. When they realised they had been spotted, the suspected poachers dropped an axe and a bag with their provisions in an attempt to escape from the rangers.
One of the suspects was arrested following assistance from the Airwing and K9 unit. The suspect informed the rangers that the group had run into a herd of elephants and was not sure if his accomplice had managed to escape. The Rangers discovered his accomplice badly trampled and unfortunately succumbed to his injuries. The third suspect is said to have been injured in the eye but continued to flee. A rifle was recovered and the case was referred to police, who together with the pathology team attended to the scene.
The Managing Executive of the KNP, Gareth Coleman congratulated all those involved in the arrests “we are proud of the teamwork and dedication of our Rangers Corp, our aviators and the K9 unit. It is unfortunate that a life was unnecessarily lost. Only through discipline, teamwork and tenacity will we be able to help stem the tide of rhino poaching in KNP.”
The search for the third suspect is underway. Coleman has called on the community members living close to the KNP to assist with information. “The campaign against poaching is the responsibility of all us; it threatens many livelihoods, destroys families and takes much-needed resources to fight crime which could be used for creating jobs and development” concluded Coleman.