Johannesburg - Thirty-two rhino have been poached in South Africa since the beginning of the year, the department of environmental affairs said on Wednesday.

“This brings to 18 the number of rhino poached in the Kruger National Park for their horns. Six rhino were poached in North West and five in KwaZulu-Natal since the start of the year,” said spokesman Albi Modise.

Two rhinos were poached in Limpopo and one in Mpumalanga.

“The Kruger National Park figures includes carcasses of rhinos killed in 2012, but were only discovered recently due to thick bush,” he said.

He said 13 people have been arrested in relation to rhino poaching this year.

“Six of the arrests were made in the Kruger National Park during two successful operations, despite serious flooding, this past weekend.”

On Friday, special operations team members and rangers arrested two alleged poachers in the Pafuri region, confiscating a .375 high calibre hunting rifle and poaching equipment.

Four more poachers were arrested in the Tshokwane and Nwanetsi areas. Two of the suspects, who had been chased with the help of air support, managed to flee into Mozambique, he said.

“Three rhino horns, a firearm and poaching equipment were confiscated. During the follow-up investigation two rhino carcasses were found with their horns removed.” - Sapa