South African National Parks (SANParks) today (Monday, 20 June 2016) confirmed the arrest of two field rangers at Nwanedzi Ranger Section of the Kruger National Park (KNP) on 18 June 2016 for alleged involvement in rhino poaching activities.
“The arrest of the two field rangers was the culmination of an extensive follow-up operation conducted after a poached rhino carcass, with horns removed, was located by the Nwanedzi rangers on the 16th June. The two suspected field rangers were detained at the Skukuza Police Station pending further investigations and appeared in court today,” said the CEO of SANParks Mr Fundisile Mketeni.
This arrest follows closely on from the suspension of two field rangers attached to the Special Operations Unit in Skukuza on 8 June 2016, and the arrest of a Field Ranger based at Satara and a Technical Services supervisor based at Skukuza on 9 June 2016. Both arrested employees have already appeared in court. Mr Mketeni said: “We are constantly on alert and that is what led to the arrests of these individuals.”
“The suspensions and arrests are the result of ongoing investigations by SANParks into rhino poaching activities in the KNP, and we, therefore, would like to congratulate the KNP Rangers, SANParks Environmental Crime Investigation (ECI) unit and South African Police Service for doing a good job, and to remind them that this is a battle we cannot afford to lose, we need to fight for our heritage,” concluded Mr Mketeni.
The news has already received some traction on social media, with Kruger fans lauding SANParks for a job well done.
The below comments are just a few posted to the Camps and Roads of Kruger group on Facebook:
William Scrooby: “This is great news, it was always expected…, well done for catching them, there will always be a few rotten apples and thank you for SANParks that are obviously doing something about the rotten apples!!!”
Ian McDonald: “Again, proof that SANParks is functioning honestly and to the highest levels! Unlike the norm in SA where offenders are protected, SANParks is not scared to root out the criminals within their ranks! Hats off to SANParks!!!”
Alma Zulch: “My heart goes out to those genuine and dedicated rangers who devote their very lives to our wildlife and who are betrayed and have their names vilified by these loathsome ‘colleagues’. Congratulations, SANParks, I wish you luck with your continuing investigations.”