Rhino killers lay siege to Kruger Park

11 May 2015 - 02:12 By Shaun Smillie

Poaching syndicates employing 6000 people are preying on the Kruger National Park. The latest rhino-poaching statistics released by Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa yesterday also illustrate how sophisticated these syndicates have become.By the end of April 393 rhinos had been killed in the country - 290 of these in the Kruger Park.General Johan Jooste, the commanding officer of SANParks' special projects unit, said syndicates comprised not only poachers but also intricate support structures that included drivers and middlemen based in communities around the park.Jooste said that between January and April this year there were 900 incursions into the park by poachers.He said syndicate poachers were now making more incursions into the park from within South Africa, rather than from Mozambique.Molewa said: "By this time last year the number of rhino lost to poachers for the whole of the country was 331, with 212 killed in the Kruger National Park."But the minister said there had been successes, with the arrest of poachers increasing from 96 between January and April last year to 132 for the same period this year.She pointed out that while the number of rhinos killed had increased in the Kruger National Park, poaching for the rest of the country had either decreased or stabilised compared to last year.

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