SanParks forensic team beginning their investigation of the crime scene of the poached elephant in Vlakteplaas, northern section of the Kruger national park. PHOTO: Lindi Masinga/ANA

Vlakteplaas - Elephant poaching had increased from 22 in 2016 to 30 in 2017 in the Kruger National Park, the South African National Parks (SANParks) said on Monday .

"These people came in and shot it, their tracks lead to Mozambique," SANParks spokesperson Ike Phaahla said while at a crime scene of an elephant that was poached around three weeks ago on the northern part of the park.

On arrival at the scene, the elephant was seen laying on it's side with it's face hacked off and it's spine cut open.

"Sensus will be done in September to determine how many elephants we have in the park."

Once the elephant is shot, the spine is cut to ensure that it is dead while they remove the tusks.

Elephant rib that was raptured by the bullet that was used by poachers to put it down before it's horns were hacked off it's face. PHOTO: Lindi Masinga/ANA

Phaahla said that a SANParks management review was done, where communities were visited to discuss the issues they had with poaching as well as what assistance was needed by the residence to prevent them from being involved in poaching syndicates.

"They told us that youth unemployment made it easy for syndicates to make it into the park. We are still analysing the information we have to help with decreasing the amounts of animals poached," he said.

After a lengthy search inside the elephant carcass, the forensic team identified a rib that was shattered by a bullet.

"The bullet hit the rib and possibly went into the lung," said a member of the forensic team who can't be named.

Phaahla said despite the increase in elephant poaching they were pleased that the poaching of rhino had decreased by 34 percent (from 354 in 2016, to 243 in 2017) and that inside the park 90 poachers had been arrested.

"We educate each other, communities are telling us things we did not know that are a challenge to them," he said.

"CSI programmes have been developed and there is a relationship between the park and the communities, we need then to tell us what they need." 

South African National Parks spokesperson Ike Phaahla says elephant poaching has increased in 2017. VIDEO: Lindi Masinga/ANA