A SANParks ranger in the Kruger National Park. Picture: Phill Magakoe/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Johannesburg - South African National Parks (SANParks) said on Friday that a field ranger has succumbed to his injuries following a shootout with poachers in the Kruger National Park.

SANParks said on Thursday the ranger, his colleagues - who were supported by the K9 unit - made contact with a poaching group that they had been tracking, supported by the K9 unit. Gunshots were exchanged, seriously injuring the ranger in the upper body.

"A doctor was flown in to stabilise him, but unfortunately he succumbed to his injuries en route to the hospital," SANParks said in a statement.

SANParks CEO Fundisile Mketeni said: “We would like to express our sincerest condolences to his immediate family, colleagues and associates. Our prayers are with them during this difficult period, it is never easy to cope with losing a loved one, especially in this manner."

Mketeni added: "We have lost a patriot who died on duty protecting South African assets and who was well-trained to defend himself, hence our shock on learning of this incident. 

"We will draw strength from his contribution to the anti-poaching campaign and as his colleagues, we are going to continue where he left off in honour of his memory. Our immediate concern now is to support the family with their needs and counselling. We are extremely saddened by this incident."  

African News Agency/ANA