Thabazimbi – A national park in Limpopo has suffered its first rhino poaching incident in a period of two years.
SANParks spokesperson Paul Daphne said a fresh rhino carcass, with its horn removed, was discovered in the northern section of the Marakele National Park near Thabazimbi.
“We are distressed at the loss of this rhino, as SANParks had put in place a number of enhanced security measures to prevent further rhino poaching in Marakele since the loss of a number of animals at the end of 2011,” said Daphne on Friday.
“Our ranger teams have been working tirelessly around the clock to ensure that rhino poachers do not establish a foothold in the Marakele National Park.”
Daphne said field rangers, who were out on a routine patrol, detected the tracks of three unidentified people, and followed the tracks to where they exited the park.
“Upon backtracking on the same tracks, the carcass of a dehorned rhino bull was found at around 17:00 on Wednesday afternoon,” he said.
He said the crime scene was secured and is currently being investigated by a SAPS forensics team together with SANParks officials.
“We are continuing to work together with other role players to develop more effective anti-poaching strategies for the park and also in the Greater Waterberg Biosphere area,” Daphne said.
Meanwhile, the total number of rhino poached in South Africa since the beginning of the year has increased to 488, with 142 alleged poachers having been arrested.
Environmental Affairs spokesman Albi Modise said about 488 rhinos have been poached in South Africa since the beginning of the year, with the Kruger bearing most of the brunt.
“A total of 300 rhino have been poached in the park since January 1. A total of 53 rhino have been poached in North West, 52 in Limpopo, 43 in KwaZulu-Natal, 35 in Mpumalanga, three in Gauteng and two in the Eastern Cape,” Modise said in the statement issued on Thursday.
He said of the 142 arrested alleged poachers, 62 have been caught in the Kruger National Park and 30 in KwaZulu-Natal.
He added that a total of 27 suspected poachers have been arrested in Limpopo, 11 in North West province, nine in Mpumalanga and three in Gauteng.
He said five were charged with being couriers.
“South Africans are urged to report incidents of poaching and tip-offs to the anonymous tip-off lines 0800 205 005, 08600 10111 or Crime-Line on 32211,” Modise said. – SAnews.gov.za