Gunfire at game reserve

2014-11-05 00:00

THE quiet bushveld of the Phinda Game Reserve resounded with gunfire on Monday afternoon as officials and suspected poachers engaged in a battle.

While patrolling the Hluhluwe area, the Durban Organised Crime Unit, Nyathi Anti-Poaching and special task force members received information about a group of people who were suspected to be poaching in the Phinda Game Reserve.

At around 4.30 pm, the three suspects were spotted trying to enter the reserve.

Spokesperson for the SAPS Thulani Zwane said the suspects allegedly fired on the officers, who returned fire.

One suspect, who was found with a 308 hunting rifle with five live rounds, was wounded and taken to hospital under police guard.

Two more suspects were carrying axes and were arrested as well.

The officials intercepted them before any rhinos were poached.

All three suspects will appear in the Hluhluwe Magistrate’s Court today, facing charges of illegal hunting of rhinos and possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition.

KZN provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni applauded the members for the good work.

“Police will work tirelessly to fight and combat illegal hunting including rhino poaching,” she said.

Spokesperson for KZN Wildlife Musa Mntambo commended the team and said that the arrest shows how much can be achieved if everyone works together.

Mntambo also said that the incident confirmed the worrying trend that poachers are increasingly targeting private game reserves.

He was referring to the poaching of a white rhino in the Kube Yini Private Game Reserve in Hluhluwe. The reserve’s owners moved their remaining white rhino to a safer location.

South African police have since arrested two Vietnamese suspects and confiscated a large number of rhino horns as part of an anti-poaching operation.

In speaking about the relationship between government reserves and private reserves, Mntambo said “we all need to work together more than we have before”.


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