Four men suspected of poaching a rhino have been arrested between Cradock and Queenstown after a bloody axe and a hunting rifle were found in their bakkie, reports Herald Live.
Eastern Cape reserves have been on high alert for the past week after a group of suspected poachers, driving the same bakkie as those arrested, was spotted around several reserves in the province.
Since the men’s arrest on Wednesday, officials have asked various game farms in the Eastern Cape to tally their rhino.
Yesterday, police forensic experts began stripping the bakkie but failed to find any signs of horn hidden inside the panels.
Police had not yet found the suspected poached animal but confirmed the blood inside the bakkie had been sent for forensic testing.
The bakkie was pulled off by police on the R61 heading towards the small Karoo town of Tarkastad.
Various items used in rhino poaching – such as an axe (with blood on it), rope, spade and a hunting rifle – were found in the bakkie.
The arrests come less than a week after poachers killed and dehorned two rhinos on the Lombardini Game Farm between Jeffreys Bay and Humansdorp.
Police suspect the men could be linked to the Lombardini poaching but are still gathering evidence.
The hunting rifle found in the bakkie has been sent to the ballistic unit to verify if it is the same firearm used in last week’s poaching attack at Lombardini.
Police spokesman Captain Lariane Jonker said the men, aged between 23 and 30, were bust after a tip-off.
“When police stopped and searched the Isuzu bakkie, they discovered and confiscated a .375 rifle and an axe stained with blood,” she said.
This is the second fatal poaching attack at Lombardini. Despite the Rhino being dehorned two years ago, poachers killed two Rhino and injured a third in the attack last weekend.
The owners of Lombardini are now sadly having to consider selling the Rhino on the game farm for security reasons.
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