Suspected poacher killed

2011-02-08 00:00

FIELD rangers of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW) and members of the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park anti-poaching unit struck a blow against rhino poaching at the weekend when they shot a suspected poacher dead after he allegedly opened fire on them.

A second suspected poacher escaped.

Rangers spent the weekend searching for a rhino carcass or a wounded rhino in the wake of the incident, but according to a statement released by EKZNW yesterday, none was found.

They will continue to monitor the area.

EKZNW said the shooting occurred in the Makhamisa section of the park late on Saturday afternoon.

According to the press release, Ezemvelo staff received a tip-off that an attempt might be made to shoot a rhino in the reserve that day and field rangers were deployed in strategic positions.

Close to sunset they allegedly heard three shots go off close by and on investigation they spotted two suspected poachers.

Said EKZNW’s spokesperson, “Acting according to a laid-down procedure, the field rangers identified themselves and called on the intruders to stand still.

“One suspect, who was armed with an R-1 rifle, immediately began firing at the Ezemvelo staff who returned fire.

“In the ensuing exchange of gunfire the suspected poacher carrying the R-1 rifle was shot dead and the other managed to escape, dropping a .303 rifle in the process.”

No EKZNW staff members were injured.

Meanwhile, EKZNW said the dehorned carcasses of two black rhino were found at the weekend in Opathe Game Reserve and at Ndumo Game Reserve.

The rhino at Opathe was believed to have been shot about three days before the carcass was discovered on February 4.

At Ndumo, rangers found a black rhino that had been snared. The horns were missing, but it was not clear if they were removed by scavengers or poachers.

• The trial of two men charged in connection with an allegedly illegal rhino hunt at Tala Game Reserve in 2007 was yesterday adjourned in Camperdown until May.

The hunt was stopped before a rhino was killed.

Donald Nicholson of Pietermaritzburg and Lambertus Potgieter of Pongola have been charged.

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