South African National Parks (SANParks) has announced that during the afternoon of Tuesday the 28th February, four SANParks officials were arrested in connection with rhino poaching activities.

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The arrest of the four KNP based officials who are all stationed in the Pretoriuskop section of the park was as a result of an investigation conducted by members of a joint SANParks and SAPS team of officials, which also included the South African Police Dog Unit for Endangered Species, after an earlier discovery of two freshly killed rhino which were found in the Pretoriuskop section of the Kruger National Park.

It has been revealed that one of the suspects, a field ranger, is one of the employees who have embarked on a strike against SANParks in the KNP.

Another one of the suspects is a member of the Protection Services unit, a traffic cop, and is the second traffic cop in the park to be arrested in connection with rhino poaching activities.

The animals had been shot and their horns removed.

A total of 43 rhino have been lost to poaching in the Kruger National Park in 2012. In the whole of South Africa, 80 rhinos have been lost to poaching since the beginning of 2012, while 50 arrests effected throughout the country.

“It is a very sad day for South Africa to find out that the unscrupulous and revolting hands of the poaching syndicates have stretched as far as to taint the hands of those trusted with the great responsibility of being guardians of our natural heritage’” said Dr. David Mabunda, the Chief Executive Officer of SANParks. “I am personally saddened to discover that some of our own would so callously abuse the confidence and faith that we have entrusted upon them,” he said.

SANParks and the South African conservation fraternity continues to request the support and cooperation of all members of society in identifying and reporting suspicious behaviour that could lead to the apprehension and conviction of these criminals.

SANParks has established a crimeline in order to improve the level of cooperation with the public as well as to make access for would be informers much easier. For tip-offs please call 082 908 3053 or send an e-mail to antipoaching@sanparks.org.

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