KwaZulu-Natal - The number of rhinos poached in South Africa had leapt to 633 – an increase of 15 in just a week – the Department of Environmental Affairs said on Wednesday.

And while the rhino massacre has surpassed the crisis point, rangers are fighting back.

A suspected poacher was shot and wounded, and four others were arrested, in the Kruger National Park over the past long weekend, SANParks said on Wednesday.

Among the latest killings was that of a female rhino, which was de-horned while giving birth. Her calf was also counted, as it was killed while fully formed.

Allison Thompson, of Outraged SA Citizens against Rhino Poaching, posted on her Facebook page that the number of rhinos killed could be closer to 641, because many poachings went unreported.

SANparks spokesman, Ike Phaahla, said the Kruger poachers were arrested in separate incidents after being spotted by field rangers on Saturday and Monday.

“The first three were arrested in the Tshokwane area after they were spotted entering the park from Mozambique on Saturday,” Phaahla said.

The other two were spotted in the Malelane section of the park, where one of them was shot on Monday. He was taken to hospital under police guard.

A silencer, three high-calibre hunting rifles, ammunition and other poaching equipment was seized during the arrests.

The department said the Kruger National Park had lost 395 rhinos to poaching this year, while the North West, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo continued to be among the hardest hit by poachers, collectively losing 197 rhinos

. - Daily News