Suspected poachers arrested at Phinda reserve after tip-off

2014-07-21 00:00

FIVE suspected poachers were arrested at Phinda Game Reserve in Zululand on Saturday.

Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said yesterday the suspects had shot at members of the Durban organised Crime Unit, Nyathi Anti-Poaching Unit and Special Task Force who were patrolling around Hluhluwe.

The police received information about suspected poaching in the reserve and they spotted five suspects inside the game reserve. One suspect was wounded in the gunfire.

The five were found with an unlicensed hunting rifle with three live rounds, a silencer and an axe.

Simon Nailer, warden at Phinda Game Reserve, said they were lucky not to have lost rhino to poaching this year, after two were killed in the reserve last October by poachers.

There had been a number of smaller poaching incidents in the past year though, mainly by suspects hunting for meat.

Nailer said they were maintaining their vigilance against poaching through training staff, maintaining information networks and keeping good relations with surrounding communities. Large sections of the wildlife reserve are owned by the communities.

“We are training new guards right now,” he said.

All the suspects, aged between 17 and 38 years old, will appear in the Hluhluwe Magistrate’s Court tomorrow on charges of illegal hunting, attempted murder, possession of unlicensed firearm and ammunition.

“Police will work tirelessly to fight and combat illegal hunting including rhino poaching,” said KwaZulu-Natal provincial commissioner, Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni, who applauded the members for the good work.

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