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Johannesburg - The SA National Parks received a new helicopter to improve its fight against rhino poaching, it said on Thursday.

“SANParks is a proud recipient of a brand new Airbus AS-350B3e helicopter with night flying capability made available with funding from the US-based Howard G Buffet Foundation,” the organisation said in a statement.

SANParks chairman Kuseni Dlamini said his organisation got initial funding of R254.8 million in 2014 to support anti-poaching operations in the Kruger National Park.

“This incorporated the establishment of 'Air Mobility' capacity and included the purchase of the first helicopter in September 2014.”

Subsequent to the initial grant funding, the foundation granted SANParks an additional R37.7m to buy a second Airbus AS350 B3e helicopter, with similar night flying capability.

The organisation was using various technologies, including unmanned aerial vehicles, in the park.

According to the Wildlife and Environment Society of SA's website, 49 rhino had been poached so far in 2015.

Sapa