Latest on rhino poaching in South Africa

Pretoria: South African National Parks (SANParks) has announced in a statement today that during the afternoon of Tuesday the 28th February, 2012 four SANParks officials were arrested in connection with rhino poaching activities.

The arrest of the four KNP based officials who are all stationed in the Pretoriuskop section of the park was as a result of an investigation conducted by members of a joint SANParks and SAPS team of officials, which also included the SAPS K9 Unit for Endangered Species, after an earlier discovery of two freshly killed rhino which were found in the Pretoriuskop section of the KNP.

It has been revealed that one of the suspected employees, a field ranger, is one of the employees who have embarked on a strike against SANParks in the KNP.

Another one of the suspects is a member of the Protection Services unit, a traffic cop, and is a second traffic cop in the park to be arrested in connection with rhino poaching activities.

The animals had been shot and their horns removed.

Further investigations into the killing of the two rhino and possibly other rhino poaching incidents in the area are currently being conducted.

In this area alone a total of 11 rhino have been killed since January 2012 and so far this year a total of 43 rhino have been lost to poaching in the KNP broadly.

In the whole of South Africa 80 rhinos have been have been lost to poaching since the beginning of 2012, while 50 arrests effected throughout the country.

"It is a very sad day for South Africa to find out that the unscrupulous and revolting hands of the poaching syndicates have stretched as far as to taint the hands of those trusted with the great responsibility of being guardians of our natural heritage" said Dr. David Mabunda, the Chief Executive Officer of SANParks. "I am personally saddened to discover that some of our own would so callously abuse the confidence and faith that we have entrusted upon them, he said.

SANParks and the South African conservation fraternity continues to request the support and cooperation of all members of society in identifying and reporting suspicious behaviour that could lead to the apprehension and conviction of these criminals.