Pair caught in Vryheid with two rhino horns, carcasses still missing

2010-11-24 00:00

POLICE said yesterday they are working with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife to locate carcasses of two rhinos that are believed to have been shot in the Hluhluwe/Imfolozi Game Reserve.

Police have recovered an AK 47 rifle which is believed to have been used by the poachers.

Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker said two men were arrested near Vryheid on Monday in possession of two rhino horns.

“On Monday members of the organised crime unit in KwaZulu-Natal received information that a black rhino was shot in the Hluhluwe/Imfolozi Game Reserve,” Naicker said.

“According to their sources the suspects were travelling in a taxi from Empangeni toward Gauteng.”

He said the unit contacted the Vryheid dog unit, which set up a roadblock on the R34 in the outskirts of the town.

When the taxi was pulled over at the roadblock, two men, aged 29 and 35, were found in possession of two rhino horns.

“The men were detained at Vryheid and this morning detectives from the organised crime unit interviewed both men.

“ … in a follow-up investigation an AK47 rifle was recovered at the home of one of the men in the Melmoth area,” Naicker said.

He said that by yesterday no carcasses had been recovered.

“We are working very closely with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife to locate the carcasses of the animals that these horns belong to.”

Naicker added that the two men would face charges of illegal possession of rhino horns, illegal hunting and illegal possession of a firearm when they appear in the Vryheid Magistrate’s Court tomorrow.

Dr Bandile Mkhize, the CEO of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, yesterday told The Witness that they would leave no stone unturned to ensure that the carcasses are found before the end of the week.

“What is fortunate is that one of the suspects has volunteered to co-operate and show police where the carcasses are, so we hope we will find them very soon,” Mkhize said.

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