Suspected poacher held after tip-off

2013-08-07 00:00

A TIP-OFF from a resident has resulted in the arrest of a suspected rhino poacher near the Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park.

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife spokesperson Musa Mntambo said yesterday that in the early hours of Sunday morning, Ezem­velo field rangers who were on foot patrol heard gun shots along a road (R618) that goes through Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park from Mtubatuba to kwaHlabisa.

A Ford Bantam bakkie with two occupants was seen trying to escape and the rangers gave chase.

“During the chase, gunshots were exchanged between the suspects and the field rangers.

“When the suspects realised that Ezemvelo rangers were not giving up the chase, they abandoned their bakkie and ran into the nearby bush,” Mntambo said.

He said the rangers called for back-up, all exits were blocked and an aerial and foot search was launched.

“At around 6.30 am, a badly injured man was caught 200 metres from the corridor road following a tip-off from the community members who heard the suspect calling for assistance and immediately notified Ezemvelo field rangers.”

The suspect, who had been shot in the stomach, was taken to a nearby hospital. Mntambo said he will be charged with attempted murder.

Dr Bandile Mkhize, CEO of Ezemvelo, has again indicated the importance of community involvement in the fight against rhino poaching.

“The latest arrest would not have happened if it was not for the involvement of our community members. The tip-off further indicates that our anti-rhino poaching awareness campaigns are beginning to bear fruit,” said Mkhize.

Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane confirmed that a 30-year-old man was arrested and that a case of attempted murder is being investigated by Hlabisa police.

• This year, Ezemvelo has made 35 rhino poaching related arrests.

• 53 rhinos have been poached in the province this year, 10 of which were poached in private game reserves and community conservation areas.

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