Another rhino found killed

2009-08-28 00:00

AN aerial search found the carcass of a white rhino near the northern bank of the White Umfolozi River in the Zigubeni area, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife spokesman Jeff Gaisford said yesterday.

The discovery follows the arrests of four suspected rhino poachers and the recovery of two fresh rhino horns and a ,303 rifle in a vehicle on Wednesday night.

EKZNW acting director of biodiversity conservation Sifiso Kheswa said: “We are very pleased with these arrests and I must commend the members of the Imfolozi anti-poaching unit and the Imfolozi field rangers for the efficiency of their operation, and the SAPS members from KwaMbonambi for responding so rapidly.

“This is a major breakthrough for us and we are hoping that it leads to a great many more arrests.

“These arrests, however, are no reason to drop our guard and our staff will remain as committed as before, but at least now we have the added motivation provided by this latest incident.”

Kheswa said it is sad that yet another rhino has been killed, but if it leads to “a whole spate of arrests, then we can accept it”.

EKZNW said the incident brings the number of rhino killed in KZN this year to 19 — 15 of them in protected areas managed by EKZNW.

Little is known about the suspects, who were arrested after Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park field rangers reacted to the sound of a single gunshot in the park.

Imfolozi management staff rapidly deployed rangers and contacted the police for back-up. A roadblock was set up at Ocilwane on the only road leading out of the community area adjacent to that section on the eastern side of the reserve, said Gaisford.

At about 7 pm, a vehicle with four men approached and tried to avoid the roadblock, but was stopped.

“While inspecting the interior of the vehicle by torchlight the officers found a ,303 rifle and it was noticed that some of the men in the vehicle had bloodstains on their clothing.

“An inspection of the load-bin of the vehicle revealed two freshly removed rhino horns,” Gaisford added.

The arrested suspects are expected to appear in court soon.

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