Three rhino have been killed in the Kruger National Park since the beginning of the year, SA National Parks (SANParks) said on Tuesday.
“The animals were lost in two separate incidents. A hunting rifle and two sets of horns were recovered,” said spokesman Ike Phaahla.
In the first incident, two white rhino were shot dead in the Houtboschrand section of the park.
Kruger National Park managing executive Abe Sibiya said a poaching group from Mozambique shot the animals and removed their horns on January 1. The poachers had not been caught.
In the second incident, rangers in the Lower Sabie area exchanged gunfire with three poachers, who escaped, but left behind a high-calibre hunting rifle and a bag containing a set of rhino horns.
The carcass of a white rhino missing its horns was later found.
“This is not an ideal way to start the year, but the initiatives that we have put in place, especially the aerial surveillance one, is teaching us a lot and we are making a lot of progress,” Sibiya said in a statement.
Two rhino were killed at the Madikwe Game Reserve in North West on Monday, according to the provincial environmental affairs department.
Spokeswoman Dumisa Seshabela said the first rhino was found dead on Saturday evening.
“It was confirmed as (a) rhino poaching on Sunday. Both the horns of the bull were removed. The cause of death was a shot near the front of his neck.”
The carcass of the second rhino was found on Monday evening.
Seshabela said park rangers heard shots at about 7.45pm.
“The horn was not removed. It is suspected that the poachers were disturbed.”
On December 19, the national environmental affairs department said 633 rhinos had been killed for their horns in South Africa in 2012.
The Kruger National Park had lost 395 rhino to poaching, and 197 had been killed in North West, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo.
In 2011, 252 rhino were killed for their horns in the Kruger National Park, with 74 killed in Limpopo, 21 in North West, and 34 in KwaZulu-Natal. - Sapa