36 rhino poachers arrested in three weeks
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Durban - Thirty-six suspected rhino poachers have been arrested in the Kruger National Park and Hluhluwe Game Reserve in the last three weeks. The arrests have been effected by the Rhino 8 Task Team. Brigadier Vish Naidoo, national police spokesperson, said since the beginning of October to date, some members of the task team were able to arrest the 36 suspects in the areas of Acornhoek, Calcutta, Hazyview, Elukwatini and Skhukuza (Mpumalanga), Hluhluwe, Mtubatuba (kwaZulu-Natal) and Hoedspruit and Phalaborwa (Limpopo).
During these arrests the team also confiscated four motor vehicles including a VW Golf, a Ford Ranger Wildtrack, a Nissan Navara; 12 unlicensed firearms including rifles; a variety of ammunition, silencers, a hacksaw, axes, knives, 27 cellphones and three rhino horns as well an elephant tusk.
"Most of these suspects have since appeared in various courts on charges of unlawful possession of firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition, possession of dangerous weapon/s, trespassing, hunting a protected animal, kidnapping, assault, possession of remains of a wild animal, in terms of the Immigration Act for either being illegally in the country/without proper documentation and/or possession of suspected stolen property," Naidoo said.
He added that despite a multitude of arrests by the Rhino 8 Task Team, there still seems to be greater persistence by suspects wanting to poach rhino. It is with hoped that the arrest of these 36 suspects would serve as a warning and deterrent to other potential poachers.
"The strategies we have in place now are intended to significantly reduce the chances of poachers. We applaud the communities for their continued support in fighting this scourge. With this growing help from the communities, the days of poachers are certainly numbered. Poachers are warned that over and above facing criminal prosecution, we are coming after their ill-gotten gains in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act," Naidoo said.