Rhino poachers Kruger National Park

rhino poachers who were armed with a high calibre rifle. Image: Stock/ Canva

Two field rangers arrested for alleged involvement in rhino poaching

The Hawks said the two Skukuza field rangers allegedly provided tactical information to rhino poaching syndicates for large sums of money.

Rhino poachers Kruger National Park

rhino poachers who were armed with a high calibre rifle. Image: Stock/ Canva

The two field rangers arrested allegedly provided tactical information to rhino poaching syndicates for large sums of money.

THE TWO FIELD RANGERS ARE EXPECTED IN COURT ON MONDAY

According to Hawks spokesperson Warrant Officer Bonnie Nxumalo, the two Field Rangers aged 56 and 60 will appear in the Bushbuckridge Magistrates’ Court on Monday, 25 April.

“They were arrested on Saturday afternoon in Skukuza and charged with corruption, money laundering, and fraud linked to wildlife trafficking.

“The suspects were arrested by the Mpumalanga-based Hawks’ Serious Corruption Investigation team, assisted by the Skukuza Stock Theft and Endangered Species Unit during operation Blood Orange.”

Bonnie Nxumalo

MORE ARRESTS COULD BE MADE SOON

Nxumalo said the arrest follows a comprehensive investigation that included the field rangers’ financial affairs.

“It is alleged that the suspects provided tactical information to rhino poaching syndicates in exchange for large sums of money.”

Bonnie Nxumalo

Nxumalo added that further arrests could not be ruled out since the investigation is ongoing.

DO YOU HAVE MORE INFORMATION?

Anyone with further information on the investigation is urged to contact the Hawks investigating officer, Colonel Danie Hall, on 071 481 3281.

Meanwhile, in an unrelated case, South African National Parks (SANParks) today announced the conviction of four poachers in the |Ai|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park (ARTP).

THE CONVICTION OF FOUR POACHERS IN THE NORTHERN CAPE WELCOMED

It is said in a statement that members of the Ranger Corp, assisted by the botanical team and South African Police Services, were involved in the arrest of the succulent poachers. The latter was trying to steal endangered “Halfmens” trees within the ARTP.

According to SANParks Regional General Manager, Lucius Moolman, the four arrested were sentenced and convicted on Thursday, 21 April 2022, to seven years.

“The removal and permanent damage of 14 Pachypodium namaquanum is one of the worst cases in the history of the Richtersveld National Park, due to the significant cultural, tourism and natural value of the plants.”

Lucius Moolman

He said due to the sensitivity of the species, they will not be able to be rehabilitated into their natural habitat, and this will have a negative impact on the specific population.

ALSO READ: Seven-month-old rhino calf orphaned after poaching incident

‘THIS IS ONE OF THE WORST CASES IN THE HISTORY OF THE RICHTERSVELD NATIONAL PARK’

Moolman furthermore said the species are of great value and are seen as a valuable asset to the ARTP, which is the only national park in South Africa where the species are being conserved.

He welcomed the conviction and said SANParks considers the poaching of succulents a serious offence.

“SANParks will not tolerate this type of poaching from members of the public. We will not rest until each and every suspect is convicted, and the poaching is stopped.”

ALL PLANTS IN THE NORTHERN CAPE PROVINCE ARE PROTECTED

All plants in the Northern Cape Province are protected, and a permit is needed to remove, transport, or possess these plants.

The Richtersveld National Park (part of the ARTP) is a contractual park, managed jointly by the local community board called the ‘RGBK’ and SANParks. It is the only national park where the community is allowed to live and farm within a national park.