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Johannesburg - SA National Parks on Wednesday welcomed the sentencing in Nelspruit of two Mozambican poachers to 16 years in prison.

“This sentence will certainly make potential poachers think twice, before crossing the fence to plunder our natural heritage,” said acting Sanparks CEO Abe Sibiya in a statement.

“The sentencing will also help to lift the morale of all men and women in uniform who are in the trenches fighting this scourge of rhino poaching.”

On Tuesday, Joseph Ephraim Bila and Ndombama Salvatore Nkuna were each handed a 16-year-sentence in the Nelspruit Regional Court for killing and dehorning a white rhino.

The pair were arrested by rangers from the Mjokwane Section of the Kruger National Park on April 27 last year.

A third suspect who was alleged to be the mastermind, Tinos “Lucky” Mhlongo from Mkhuhlu outside Hazyview, skipped bail last year.

Sibiya said Kruger National Park had lost 351 animals to poaching this year and 60 people had been arrested in connection with some of these cases.

“We are resolute in our determination to win this war that is being waged by greedy individuals”.