Kruger ranger shot by suspected poachers

2013-05-25 21:03
(File, AFP)

(File, AFP)

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Johannesburg - A ranger was shot and wounded during an operation to apprehend suspected poachers in the Kruger National Park, SA National Parks (SANParks) said on Saturday.

Houtboschrand section ranger Andrew Desmet was shot in the stomach during a joint operation between SANParks and the SA National Defence Force on Friday night, spokesperson Reynold Thakhuli said in a statement.

"He was subsequently airlifted to a medical facility in Nelspruit [Mbombela] where he underwent an operation late last night and his condition is stable," he said.

"While this incident was unfolding, another group of rangers made contact with a second group of armed poachers approximately 2km away where a shoot-out ensued."

Thakhuli said the poachers managed to escape into the bush and no arrests were made.

A 458 heavy calibre rifle and other poaching equipment were recovered at the scene.

'It's war out there'

SANParks chief executive David Mabunda extended his well wishes to Desmet on behalf of all park staff.

"Andrew is a long serving member of our ranger corps. We have always said it is a war out there, and we wish once again to thank Andrew and all our rangers who are in the front line of the battle."

He thanked all those who played a role in getting Desmet to safety and wished him a speedy recovery.

"SANParks remains committed to doing everything in our power to roll back the scourge of rhino poaching and to ensure that those who commit these crimes are brought to justice," Mabunda said.

Thakhuli said Friday night's shootings followed the arrest of two suspected poachers earlier in the week.

"These arrests brought to 50 the number of suspected poachers arrested in the Kruger National Park so far this year."

SANParks spokesperson Paul Daphne said: "While the increasing number of suspected poachers being arrested in the Kruger Park may reflect the increasing numbers engaging in rhino poaching, it also indicates that the measures that SANParks has put in place are making an impact."

Daphne said in 2012 they were arresting an average of six suspected poachers a month, while in the first four months of this year the rate of arrests had climbed to almost 12 per month.

"The doubling of the rate of arrests is an indication of our on-going commitment to do all that it takes to bring these criminals to book."

Read more on:    sanparks  |  mbombela  |  rhino poaching

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