Cape Town - Tourists on a game drive in the Kruger National Park were instrumental in the arrest of two suspected rhino poachers over the long weekend.
Environmental news site, Oxpeckers.org, reports that the visitors were near the Phalaborwa gate when they spotted two suspects crossing the road late on Saturday afternoon.
They immediately alerted rangers, who in turn called in the help of the SAPS.
SANParks released a statement on Tuesday, saying that they managed to net the two suspected poachers just before sunset on the same day with support from the Dog Unit, the SAPS reaction team and a helicopter donated by the Howard Buffet Foundation.
The team recovered a 458 hunting rifle, ammunition and poaching equipment. Two sets of rhino horns were also recovered during the arrests.
Since the beginning of this month there have been 22 arrests for suspected poaching activities inside the Kruger National Park, bringing to 56 the total number of arrests in the park since the start of 2015.
In a previous incident on the morning of 22 April 2015, rangers conducting anti-poaching patrols in the southern region of the park came across signs of a group of poachers and discovered a freshly killed rhino with its horns removed.
Shortly after the arrival of the reaction force, the rangers arrested four suspected rhino poachers and managed to recover a heavy calibre hunting rifle, ammunition, hunting equipment and a fresh set of rhino horns.
Fundisile Mketeni, CEO of SANParks has congratulated the rangers on the recent arrests.
“SANParks, on behalf of all South Africans, wishes to thank our rangers and our partners in the SAPS and SANDF for their dedication to this fight,” said Mketeni.
“SANParks is making every effort to increase support to our rangers in the field: enhanced aerial support and the use of the canine units are both becoming an increasingly vital component of our anti-poaching strategy. Given the increasing number of arrests, this strategy is clearly paying off.”
Tourists can report any incidents they spot in the park on the SANParks Emergency Call Centre numbers 013 735 5516 / 076 801 9679.