A concerted effort is underway in South Africa to eliminate poaching. Rhinos are especially in danger, and many have been hit in the last few weeks. Yet efforts to stop the poaching are succeeding, too. Two poachers were shot dead and three others were captured after authorities found them in a game preserve this week.
The Daily Mail reports that six rhinos were found dead in a single day. The poachers met a similar fate on Sunday, when they were ambushed by field rangers.
2017 has been a devastating year for the rhino population. The KwaZulu-Natal area has lost 142 this year. The poachers ambushed this weekend were believed to have been part of the problem. They were found with an old hunting rifle and tools for removing the rhino horns which–pound for pound–sell for more than gold.
Authorities were able to arrest three men, and those men provided information that led to the shootout with the others. When the rangers found the men, they reportedly cut on flashlights and ordered them to the ground. But the men started to shoot, and two were killed.
The other men fled, and are currently being pursued with dogs and helicopters.
Musa Mntambo told a local news station: “Our rangers observed a group of five poachers and turned on their flashlights simultaneously ordering the poachers to lay down their weapons. One poacher pointed a gun towards the field rangers but he was outgunned. The rangers fired first and two poachers were fatally wounded and a rifle was recovered. Three managed to escape in the shootout.”
“It is always a pleasant feeling when you know that the efforts of our Field staff as well as that of the SAPS are bearing fruit. Taking out five poachers in less than 24 hours is a huge achievement and I take my hat off to all those who were involved. We shall not relax until we arrest those who escaped as well as their handlers.”
Earlier in the week, a baby white rhino was found orphaned. Nine rhinos, including the baby rhino’s mother, had been killed. Authorities believe it was the same group of poachers that they encountered this weekend.