Unarmed Farm Manager Gives Rhino Poachers a Bloody Nose For Christmas

By Simon Bloch of The Cape Times/Independent News Group.

An unarmed Zululand game farm manager, Bester Scheepers, and a group of rhino guards armed only with knob-kerries overpowered and arrested two members of a heavily-armed poaching gang after a fist-fight that lasted five minutes prior to Christmas.

bester scheepers

The suspects were due to appear in court yesterday (THUR).

The farm Scheepers manages, (the name of the reserve has been omitted for security reasons) has been targeted before by rhino poachers, with two rhinos being killed at his farm only a week earlier.

Carrying knob-kerries, batons and 2-way radios, the team’s operation turned out to be a life-and death struggle to protect their employer’s rhinos, which have been targeted for their horns by criminal underworld syndicates which countrywide have seen over 1500 rhinos killed in South Africa in the past four years.

“We had been on high alert for a few days” he recalled, “but when my senior guard called to tell me that he had discovered the tracks of five intruders, I was ready to go” said Bester.

He found the tracks around 7 am next to the perimeter fence of our property and had been following them for four hours, heading in the direction of our rhinos.

“I raced to meet the guards with my tracker dogs, and we continued to follow the tracks on foot. We then split into two groups, and the dogs led me to an area near the water-wallow where the rhino like to roll in the mud”.

It was there, under a clump of blue-gum trees that Bester spotted his quarry; five men resting in an area camouflaged by dense foliage.

“Being unarmed, my instincts told me to take them by surprise. Luckily I have some military skills, so when I saw the rifle and huge axe on the ground, I knew I had to disarm them. That was the only thing that went through my mind… I tackled the one nearest to the weapon before he could lift it to aim. He was trying to bite me, the dogs were barking, and my colleague Skabuz was wrestling one of the others who was trying to stab him with a large screwdriver. It was a hectic fight, but we worked them” he continued.

According to Bester, the encounter lasted five minutes before he and his guards got the upper hand, overpowering the exhausted suspects and securing their wrists behind their backs with belts and boot-laces.

“We recovered a high caliber Winchester 458 hunting rifle fitted with a silencer, 4 cartridges, an axe, high-tech night hunting lights and cell-phones. I dread to think what might have happened had we not tracked them down” he said.

Three accomplices managed to escape, but left their shoes behind.

The police were then called, and the suspects handed over to Lt Colonel Mthembu from the Richards Bay Hawks.

A tracker from an anti-poaching unit who visited the scene, said one of the suspects’ shoe soles resembled a footprint that had been spotted at another poaching incident at a nearby game reserve.

Scheepers, who is the toast of Hluluwe’s rhino conservation community and a hero to members of the Hluluwe Rugby Club, said that the operation was ”all part of the job”.

Bester, 24, grew up dreaming of a career in agriculture and game- farming.

“Bester Scheepers is fearless, and I can vouch for that” says Hluluwe resident and game-guide AdamPark. “I watch him play rugby at the Hluluwe rugby club, and he’s like a rhino. He just puts his head down and gets stuck into his opponents. He is not afraid to tackle the biggest guys on the field. Plus he just love his rhinos, and is dedicated to saving them” said Park.

Senzo Myamirie, 30, a Mozambican national and Mthokozi Mlambo, 19, a South African, were due to appear in the Hluluwe court today where they are will be charged with possession of an unlicensed firearm, illegal hunting and trespassing.

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Africa Geographic Editorial

We're the Africa Geographic editorial team – a diverse set of editors, designers and social media natives, all united by our passion for this addictive continent.

  • http://twitter.com/SimonEspley Simon Espley

    Yay!

  • http://www.facebook.com/Lobs.Kritz Lorraine Clelland

    Yay!

  • Judith Southey Wintle

    Good going guys!!

  • jj

    Well done, so glad you managed to catch some of these poachers without any harm to yourselves!!

  • http://twitter.com/windsorco1 Heather Franklin

    Well done but I must admit I wish the poachers were shot instead of arrested cuz they’ll just be back out at it in a matter of time!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002451027124 Mike Vorster

    Well done to both of you – why not the same level of praise for Skabuz the senior guard? What is Skabuz’s full name? It would have been good to have a pic of both Skabuz and Bester together. I hope the community invited Skabuz to the festivities as well. AG editorial should have headlined it as “Unarmed Farm Manager and Senior Guard ….. Thanks again to the courage of Skabuz and Bester.

    • barbara tinkle

      probably best not to mention anyone else’s name for the same reason not to mention where this happened so as not to bring harm to the guards. they performed a huge service for protection of the Rhinos & I wouldn’t want harm to befall them for their brave service!

  • Keith Lyle

    GIVE THAT MAN A BELLS !

  • http://www.facebook.com/mahmoud.mousavidehshikh Mahmoud Mousavidehshikh

    way to go! We need more people like this…..But please, next employ a gun and SHOOT THE POACHERS ON SIGHT!

  • http://twitter.com/SimonEspley Simon Espley

    Nice, we need more of this guy

  • Debbie

    THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

  • Marilyn

    Life imprisonment or hanging would be the only fair way to treat these poachers – I hope they catch the others. So proud of the guys who caught them – well done and keep up your amazing and very challenging jobs protecting the SA Wildlife.

  • Annette Bulman

    What an excellent & courageous job you have all just done !!!! Thank you for helping to fight the war against this horrific poaching on our continent

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1675333908 Patrick Mukora

    … it is this kind of positive action that shows us that humans still have compassion … spread the word …

  • Elisabeth Moss

    I think you should have cut off the poacher’s “horns”. That would teach ‘em!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1362997887 Simon Bloch

    To the Admin
    Thanks for posting the article.

    Please change my accreditation for the article to Simon Bloch The Cape Times/Independent News Group.
    The post was published from their news story.

    Many Thanks and Happy New Year All.
    SB

  • http://www.facebook.com/lynne.a.rogers.9 Lynne Ann Rogers

    Well done you brave guys. Pity the poachers didnt have their hands and feet chopped off. Bloody sub-humans that they are. Hope they rot in jail.

  • http://www.facebook.com/debikm Debi Moseley Matlack

    Good on you both!

  • http://www.facebook.com/angela.odoardi Angela Od

    Great!! well done! Hunters feel very brave hunting and playing with animals that doesn´t want to play, and actually they have no balls without guns!

  • http://www.facebook.com/mandi.smallhornekraft Mandi Smallhorne Kraft

    Where is your sub-editor? No commas at the end of any quotes…

  • http://twitter.com/GSiafu G Siafu

    Well done….and to all those who would like to kill or otherwise hurt these young poachers, the most awesome thing would be if these young men could be turned from their ways and become advocates for wildlife. Happened before and those make the best defenders, just saying’…

  • Jay-Jay

    Good job, but next time take your rifles with you, shoot the b@stards from behind and leave their carcasses out for the vultures to feast on. I have no sympathy for this scum that either jump our border to snuff out the life of a cherished SA rhino or even worse, steal from the natural heritage of his own people. These men will bribe a guard in jail and days later be out on another rhino hunt onlythis time they won’t be found before they kill a rhino. It may seem extreme, but ask the rhino whose life is saved if he/she agrees. Take a life to save a life – that’s my view!

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