Two rhino poachers shot dead

Johannesburg - Two rhino poachers have been killed and six others arrested, SA National Parks (SANParks) said on Thursday.

The six arrests, and the shooting of the two poachers happened in two separate operations, SANParks said in a statement.

"In the first operation, Crocodile Bridge rangers made contact with three suspected rhino poachers. In the ensuing pursuit, two were fatally wounded and the third managed to escape back into Mozambique."

A hunting rifle, ammunition, and other hunting equipment were recovered from the scene.

"In the second operation, six suspects were arrested by the SANParks Environmental Crime Investigative Unit, [supported by the] SA Police Service, in a follow-up operation outside the western boundary of the Kruger National Park (KNP)."

A hunting rifle, ammunition, and two cars were confiscated.

The arrests followed two weeks of successful operations, resulting in 35 alleged poachers being taken into custody, bringing the total arrested in the KNP for the month of October to a record 54.

The KNP had experienced an increase in armed incursions recently, resulting in 14 contacts between armed poaching gangs and joint forces consisting of SANParks rangers, police, and the SA National Defence Force.

"The latest arrests bring the total for the year within the KNP to 144. This is the highest number of suspected poachers arrested in the KNP to date," SANParks said.

SANParks acting chief executive Nomvuselelo Songelwa thanked those in the joint forces for the courage and tenacity they had shown in the fight to protect the Kruger's rhino population.

"We are very proud of them and their actions," Songelwa said.

"We are focused on winning this war at all costs and I can promise South Africans that we will leave nothing to chance in protecting our rhino in this iconic park and in our other national parks."

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