Environmental affairs minister condemns murder of Kruger Park ranger
Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa has condemned the murder of a park ranger by alleged poachers in the Kruger National Park.
“His death at the hands of alleged rhino poachers is an indication of the severity of the threat our rangers are faced with on a daily basis‚” she said.
The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) said in a statement on Friday the ranger was from Bushbuckridge‚ Mpumalanga‚ and his name is being withheld until the family is notified of his death.
DEA said the ranger was wounded by “unscrupulous individuals and gangs” on Thursday afternoon in a shootout with the alleged poachers.
“The rangers had been tracking the alleged poachers‚ supported by the K9 unit. The skirmish took place when the rangers pursued the alleged poachers.”
The South African National Parks (SANParks) spokesman Ike Phaahla said on Thursday: “The field ranger and his colleagues made contact with a poaching group that they had been tracking‚ supported by the K9 Unit.”
He added: “It appears as they approached the group‚ shots were exchanged‚ seriously injuring him in the upper body.”
A doctor was flown in‚ and while they stabilised the man at the scene‚ he died en route to the hospital.
SANParks CEO Fundisile Mketeni said: “We would like to express our sincerest condolences to his immediate family‚ colleagues and associates. It is never easy to cope with losing a loved one‚ especially in this matter.
He added: “We have lost a patriot who died on duty protecting South African assets. We will draw strength from his contribution to the anti-poaching campaign.”