SANParks today announced that a further three suspected poachers were arrested yesterday afternoon, 6 June, in the Tshokwane section of the Kruger National Park (KNP).
A .458 hunting rifle, silencer, ammunition and an axe were recovered. This brings to 53 the number of suspected poachers that have been arrested in the KNP this year. Of these, 32 were Mozambique nationals reflecting the predominance of the eastern border of the Park as a source of incursions. This is borne out by the fact that this year 70% of the rhino’s poached have been killed in the eastern sections of the Park, adjacent to the Mozambique border, while 68% of those arrested in the park were also of Mozambican origin.
It was also announced today that Andrew Desmet, the Letaba Section Ranger who was seriously injured in a shooting incident in the Kruger National Park on 24 May 2013, continues to make progress after undergoing a second medical procedure in hospital. He was shot during a joint anti-rhino poaching operation with the South African National Defense Force (SANDF) in the Letaba region of the KNP. Mr Desmet is in a stable condition but remains in the Intensive Care Unit of a Nelspruit medical facility.
Investigations into the circumstances of the incident in which Mr Desmet suffered his injury are on-going, although initial findings have confirmed that he was injured by SANDF fire during the joint operation with the SANDF. SANParks head of anti-poaching operations, Retired Major General, Johan Jooste, confirmed that the incident happened during a joint operation, but advised against drawing any conclusions as the circumstances are still being investigated by the South African Police Service.
“We are all praying for Andrew, and are looking forward to seeing him on the road to recovery. He is not yet able to give us his view on what led to this unfortunate incident. We hope he will soon be able to shed further light on what happened but we would like to caution against unnecessary speculation pending the completion of the investigations,” concluded Jooste.