Three suspected rhino poachers were apprehended on Balule Nature Reserve on Tuesday morning after a well-coordinated effort between numerous anti-poaching, security, aviation, and policing personnel took place through the night, reports Letaba Herald.
According to SAPS, they were arrested and suspicions are that they intended to poach rhino. They appeared in the Hoedspruit Periodical Court on Wednesday morning and will appear again on Monday. They were not granted bail.
They are to be charged with the possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition and trespassing. The three men were named as Lodrick Mashabane, 26; Vusi Nkuna, 32; and Eucant Ndlovu, 34.
According to a statement from the Hoedspruit SAPS spokesperson, Sergeant Livhuwani Mulaudzi: “The rangers were busy patrolling and saw some tracks and they followed them until they found three guys hiding in the bushes, where they were found in possession of food, their cell phones, and one rifle round, and later the police found one hunting rifle.”
The chairperson of Balule Nature Reserve Sharon Hausmann congratulated all parties involved in the successful apprehension of these men.
“It is with incredible pride and elation that I wish to send this message of CONGRATULATIONS out to our Balule team, who were, without doubt, the core of the success in the apprehension of the three suspected rhino poachers.
“The wardens pulled together in a commendable effort which resulted in possibly the most successful anti-poaching operation yet in Balule. No rhino loss with this incursion, and three suspects behind bars!”
It is reported that one of the wardens and their canine tracking companion were on the tracks of the suspected poachers for 42 kilometres. The success of the apprehension owed greatly to the cohesion between them and the determination of the wardens, anti-poaching teams, and ops room personnel.
In addition, the following people were thanked by Hausmann for their instrumental roles in the arrests:
Hoedspruit Plaaswag, Hoedspruit Airforce, SA Wildlife College (Johan and his pack hounds), SAPS, Wild Skies Aviation, Flying4Rhinos, and Tannie Jane from Plaaswag.
Hausmann concluded her statement with: “Onwards and upwards against this rhino poaching scourge, and today was proof of what can be done. Respect.”