iMfolozi poacher killed in shoot-out

2009-12-29 00:00

“POACHING will not be tolerated.” This is the message from the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW) after its field rangers at the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park shot and killed a suspected poacher and injured two others during a gun battle on Christmas Day.

The next day, EKZNW staff members and police arrested four other men in the Hluhluwe area who were found with two horns taken from black rhinos.

The men confessed to dehorning a rhino that they had found stuck in the mud in the wilderness area of the eastern shores of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.

They led the police to the area where they found the carcass of a black rhino with spear wounds in its side.

The arrests come after reports that more than 200 rhino have been poached in South Africa in the past three years. At least 70 have been killed this year in state-funded and private parks.

Sifiso Kheswa, EKZNW general manager for Zululand, said that early on the evening of December 25, field rangers heard shots in the western part of the Makhamisa section of the iMfolozi section of the park.

Using torches, the field rangers identified themselves and then challenged the intruders, who immediately cocked their weapons and fired on the rangers.

In the ensuing exchange of gunfire, one suspected poacher was shot dead and two others sustained gunshot wounds.

“We regret that a life has been lost in this incident, but I would like to reiterate that those who think they can plunder our wildlife resources do so at their peril,” said Kheswa. “I am only too grateful that none of our staff were injured in this incident and I commend their courage in challenging a band of armed men who were willing to shoot it out.”

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