Rhino Watch: Shootout at Imfolozi

2013-03-28 00:00

THE drama began on Sunday afternoon in the Imfolozi section.

Gunshots were heard in the reserve, prompting a response by the field rangers. All exits at Imfolozi were closed and the KZN Rhino Watch helicopter, piloted by King Shaka Aviation’s Kyle Shuttleworth, was called out to try to spot the suspects.

Shuttleworth flew for 90 minutes, scouring the area. The suspects had no doubt taken cover, and waited for nightfall before making their move.

By 11 pm, two suspects were seen walking towards Cengeni gate.

As they spotted the rangers, one of them took aim with a rifle. Rangers opened fire, killing him. His accomplice managed to escape.

In the early hours of Monday morning, rangers passed a suspicious-looking car with two male occupants.

They did a U-turn to investigate and were surprised to find that the car was heading towards them, with three occupants.

Presumably they had picked up the suspect who had run away earlier. All three men were taken into custody.

No rhino carcass has been found in searches since then. The arrests bring to five the number of suspected rhino poachers detained in KwaZulu-Natal this year.

Well done to everyone involved.

Charity organisation Celebrate Life held a golf day last Wednesday and raised R30 000 for KZN Rhino Watch — a really amazing donation.

The Rutherfoords donated R300 in honour of family friend Tyla Kriel’s 18th birthday.

Thanks also go to repeat donor The Grass Company for its donation of R920, as well as to A. Morrow — also a repeat donor — for a R100 donation.

Every cent is ploughed into the helicopter project as The Lawrence Anthony Earth Organisation, which administers the funds, doesn’t charge us a cent to do so.

To make a donation via EFT, credit The Lawrence Anthony Earth Organisation, FNB account no. 620 801 459 83, branch no. 223 526. Enter your name as the reference and let us know about your donation via

rhinowatch@ecr.co.za.

If you’d like to sign up for a debit order, call the organisation at 031 266 2024.

According to the environment department yesterday, 188 rhino have been killed since the beginning of the year.

In the Kruger National Park, 135 rhino had been poached, while 17 rhino have been killed in North West, 16 in KwaZulu-Natal, 10 in Limpopo and another 10 in Mpumalanga, said spokesperson Albi Modise.

He said South Africa and China had signed a memorandum of understanding to fight rhino poaching.

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