A suspected poacher who was injured during a gunfight with game park rangers at the iSimangaliso Wetland Park is still on the loose.
Yesterday, KwaZulu-Natal Ezemvelo Wildlife released a statement saying they were still searching for four poachers who were caught in iSimangaliso last Friday.
Ezemvelo said field rangers reported hearing gunshots on Friday on the northern side of iSimangaliso. Field rangers were dispatched by helicopter to the scene where they found two empty boats on the bank of the lake, said Ezemvelo.
“A decision was immediately taken to monitor the area near the boats as it was suspected that the poachers who had left the boats would return for them.
“The four rangers disembarked from the helicopter and began patrolling the area on foot,” the statement reads.
Rangers returned fire
The rangers saw four “suspected” poachers walking towards the boat with one of them carrying a gun. Unexpectedly, one of the poachers started shooting towards where the rangers had positioned themselves.
“The field rangers returned fire. When the shooting ceased, the rangers moved towards the boat from which an armed poacher had fired shots,” reads the statement.
“The suspected poachers ran in different directions during the shoot-out. Field rangers further observed blood in the water, which made them suspect that a poacher, probably the one with a gun, had been shot. He might have attempted to avert arrest by jumping into the water.”
Ezemvelo said poaching incidents are rife in the area with a white rhino and a hippo being the latest animals to be killed in the last month.
“The search for the missing poacher is still ongoing, with the local community participating in the search. The other three suspect poachers are also still at large,” said Ezemvelo.