Friday, August 30, 2013

On Safari With Mark From The 26 August 2013

26 August 2013

Route Napi - Eloff - Napi – Nkambeni Tented Camp

Mark entered the park with two guests Dane from Australia and Florian from Germany after entering through the gate it as time to see what we could find!

General game viewing included:

Common duiker, steenbok, warthog, zebra, giraffe, kudu, waterbuck, vervet monkey's, chackma baboons, klipspringers, elephant, rhino, buffalo and Hyena.

We also got 3 lionesses lying on the opposite side of transport dam enjoying the heat of the sun on what was rather a cool morning in Kruger. 3 large nyala bulls crossed over the road in front of us and great photos could be taken.

On our return to camp we found a lioness lying on the rocks at klipspringer koppies also enjoying the late afternoon sun.

After a successful day it was off to camp for the evening.

27 August 2013

Route: Albeseni - Doispan – Albeseni

On this morning Dane and Florian went on their bushwalk. Wendy & Rob from Austrailia were picked up at the Davinci Hotel in Johannesburg, Rebecca from Chicago and Jennifer from Atlanta at Bobs Bunkhouse they were then Transfered by Dean to Mark who was waiting in the Kruger.

After receiving all his guests it was out to see what we could find.

General animals seen are as follows:

Giraffe, kudu, impala, warthog, steenbok, common duiker, rhino and zebra. Great sightings of elephant bulls right next to the vehicle on doispan and Buffalo bulls at namundwa dam.

No cats for the afternoon drive but will try again tomorrow.

28 August 2013

Route: Albaseni - Doispan - Eloff - Napi – Nkambeni Tented Camp

On this day we say goodbye to Dane and Florian. We then proceeded with the safari with wendy, Rob, Rebecca and Jennifer.

General animals seen:

Kudu, impala, zebra, giraffe, steenbok, common duiker, klipspringer, rhino (white and black), waterbuck and warthog.

9 different herds of elephant with 4 individual sightings of bulls on their own. 7 spotted Hyena (4 adults and 3 cubs) at their den 500m past transport on the napi. 1 honey badger 400m before boulders entrance, crossed the road in front of us but moved off very quickly.
Approximately 700m from Eco exit on eloff 1 lioness killed a blue wildebeest on the opposite

side of the sabie river.

After a good day it was back to camp so Wendy and Rob could go on their sun downer drive.

29 August 2013

Morning Drive Route: Napi - H3 - Napi – Nkambeni Tented Camp

Today Wendy and Rob headed out for their Bushwalk and Rebecca and Jennifer went out on the Open Vehicle.

General sightings seen as follows:

Giraffe, kudu, impala, waterbuck, warthog, common duiker, buffalo and rhino.

2 large herds of elephant crossing road with many young in both herds.b1 female cheetah on termite mound between boulders entrance and exit on the tar, she was just lying enjoying the morning sun. 1 leopard 2kms from s65 on napi tar. She walked parallel with the open vehicle for approximately 500m before moving off deeper into the bush.

We then said goodbye to Rebecca and Jennifer as they left back to Johannesburg.

Afternoon drive:

Route: Napi - Skakuza - Eloff - Napi – Nkambeni Tented Camp

General sightings: Giraffe, Kudu, Impala, Waterbuck and Wathog.

Great crocodile sighting along sabi river.

As we were heading back to camp we found 1 male cheetah on the tar approximately 2kms past transport dam entrance. Guests very happy to have seen this beautiful cat.

30 august 2013

Today we say goodbye to Wendy and Rob as their safari ends and they head back to Johannesburg.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Poachers Arrested

On Tuesday, 27th August 2013, in a combined intelligence driven operation outside the Kruger National Park between SANParks and the South African Police Service, two suspected rhino poachers were arrested and charged with "Conspiracy to Illegally Hunt Rhino" in the Kruger National Park with assistance from internal concessionaire staff.

In another incident, during the early evening of 27th August 2013 in the Mahlangeni section of the Kruger National Park rangers made contact with a group of three suspected rhino poachers.


One of the poachers armed with a rifle was fatally wounded. A .458 hunting rifle, ammunition and other equipment were recovered.

The remaining two suspects managed to escape into the darkness.

Issued by:
 South African National Parks

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Four Suspected Rhino Poachers Arrested

The police in Hoedspruit, Limpopo, have arrested four suspected rhino poachers believed to have been on their way to poach rhinos in the Kruger National Park.

Police received information about suspected poachers who would enter the Kruger National Park with the aim to shoot and dehorn the animals in the park. The situation was monitored and at approximately 23H00 on Sunday, two suspected vehicles with four occupants were confronted by members from the Tactical Response (TRT) Unit, Stock Theft and Crime Intelligence 10 kilometres away from the Hoedspruit Police station.

Police managed to confiscate a 458 hunting rifle and silencer, 12 pieces of live ammunition and an axe. The origin of the fire-arm is currently being investigated and it will also be sent for ballistic tests.

The four suspects aged between 33 and 46 are from South Africa and Mozambique. They are expected to appear in the Phalaborwa Magistrates’ court on Tuesday on charges of the illegal possession of a fire-arm and ammunition as well as charges under the National Environmental Biodiversity Act which includes the conspiracy to commit a crime of rhino poaching in the Kruger National Park.

Acting Provincial Commissioner Major General Berning Ntlemeza commended the team and reminded the community that an award of up to R500 000 can be paid out to any member of the public who can provide information which will lead to the arrest and the successful conviction of suspects involved in rhino poaching or dealing in rhino horns.

By:
 South African Police Service

Monday, August 26, 2013

On Safari with Dean From the 23 August 2013

23 August 2013

This afternoon’s game drive was out of Nkambeni Safari Camp at 15H00 and up the Numbi Gate tar getting good sightings of impala and kudu. We turned onto Napi Road and made our way in the direction of Napi Boulders to see if the lions from this morning were still there. Unfortunately they had already moved away, but good rhino sightings were enjoyed along the way.

New guests also got to see on the return trip to Nkambeni Safari Camp great sightings of more rhino, elephant, kudu, impala and buffalo.

All returned to camp with a couple of minutes to spare before gate closing time to enjoy a good buffet dinner before going to bed for a good night’s rest.

24 August 2013

Today we left camp at 06H30 and made our way down the Numbi Gate Tar, getting kudu, impala and warthog. We turned onto (Road Cannot Be Named Due To Poaching) getting good sightings of rhino, and elephant together with some great sightings of kudu.

Things were a bit slower today as it is a weekend with loads of local visitors that do not know how to drive in a National Park.

Highlight of the safari so far:

After passing Transport Dam, we came upon a great hyena sighting of two female hyenas as well as three pups running in the road, we spent some time here as the pups were really giving mom a work over by running from one culvert to another with her in tow.

We received a message over the radio of a leopard on the Watergat road, so we decided to make our way in that direction. We got to where the sighting had been, but he had already moved off.

We then made our way back to Napi Road, after being told of a lion sighting at Klipspringer Kopies. We made our way there getting a sighting of a female lion sleeping together with her cubs under the rock. After watching this for a while, we made our way to Skukuza for a morning break.

After leaving Skukuza we made our way back in the direction of Transport Dam in order to see what was going on there. We passed the same lion sighting and got to Transport Dam as an elephant bull was going to have a swim. After watching this sighting for about half an hour as well as getting good photos of hippo, it was off again in the direction of Nkambeni Tented Camp for lunch.

After a good lunch and also getting new guests in, we were out again in the afternoon.
Hearing of a leopard, we decided to go looking for him, however when getting to area where he had been seen, he had already moved off. We continued on getting good rhino, elephant, kudu, waterbuck, and giraffe sightings.


We then made our way back to camp for the evening as camp gates were about to close.

25 August 2013

We left camp at 06h30 and made our way down the Numbi Gate tar getting kudu, elephant and warthog. We turned onto ....Road and it was not long before we got our first sighting of rhino. We got a call about a lion between Napi boulders entrance and exit and so the chase was on!!!

We managed to get him lying a short distance from the road. After a short while roars could be heard nearby and our friend answered back after which he stood up and moved in front of our vehicle looking for his buddy and the females in his life. We enjoyed about an hour on the sighting also getting buffalo across the road from the lions.

We continued on getting elephant, giraffe, zebra, impala, kudu, hyena, warthog and a lioness with her cubs again at Klipspringer Kopies. After a busy morning we made our way onto Skukuza for a break.

After the break we were on our way back to Nkambeni Safari Camp via Doispane and Albasini Roads that proved to be quite except for some sightings of impala and elephant.

This afternoons drive after new guests joined the safari, we drove back down Napi Road to see for the lions, but they had walked off. We got good sightings of rhino, elephant, waterbuck, kudu, impala and buffalo along the way.

We then dashed for the camp gates getting in with just three minutes to spare before closing.

Poaching Update 25/8

Another success has been made by our rangers in the Tshokwane section who made contact with a group of poachers after tracking them. During the incident, a suspect was arrested. A rifle, silencer, ammo and a set of horns were recovered. Two suspects managed to escape. Our Mozambique colleagues also had another success when they made contact with a poaching group outbound from KNP. Two suspects were arrested and 1 managed to escape.

Poaching Update 24/8

(Houtboschrand) Rangers made contact with a group of 6 suspected #rhinopoachers after tracking them for most of the morning. 3 suspects were fatally wounded and 3 arrested, one of which was wounded. 2 rifles and ammo were recovered. This comes after a week of success in the rhino war were the #Mozambique colleauges had contact with 3 seperate groups in Xongile and managed to arrest 3 suspects.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Warrant Issued For Suspected Rhino Poacher

A warrant of arrest has been issued for a suspected rhino poacher who failed to appear in the Nelspruit Regional Court on Thursday, a SAPA correspondent reported.

Magistrate Eddie Hall issued the warrant for Zwelithini Maphanga, who was arrested along with Tshepo Malambe and Mike Mkansi on suspicion of illegally hunting a rhino in the Kruger National Park in 2011.

Malambe and Mkansi were present in court on Thursday.

Maphanga's lawyer told the court he did not know his client's whereabouts.

Hall said: "During the previous court appearance, Mkansi was not present. It seems the accused are taking turns being absent.

"Maphanga's bail amount will now be forfeited to the State and a warrant for his arrest will be issued."

Malambe was remanded in custody while Mkansi's bail was extended with a warning that he appear again on September 16.

In a separate case in the same court, three suspected poachers also appeared on charges of illegally hunting a rhino.

Sifiso Lephoko, David Mawelele, and Daniel Dlamini were arrested in the Stoltznek section of the park in March 2011.

Prosecutor Isabet Erwee told the court that Dlamini and Mawelele were currently serving time for other crimes while Lephoko was on bail.

The matter was postponed to September 16.

In a third case, Jonas Makhubela, who was arrested for illegal hunting in the park early this year, told the court he was prepared to plead guilty.

Hall told him a legal aid lawyer has been appointed to help him with his plea bargain.

"Your attorney will assist you in the procedure to be followed and you should tell him everything you need the court to know regarding your case."

The case was postponed to September 5 for the defence to prepare the confession statement.

By:
 South African Press Association

On Safari from 20 August 2013

On Marks Open Vehicle:

20 August 2013

Route: Napi - Doispan - Albaseni - Napi – Nkambeni Tented Camp

After a good breakfast it was out on the open vehicle to see what we could find.

Highlights of the Safari:

A serval cat in the road approx 600m past shitlhave dam entrance on the Napi, it walked in front of the open vehicle for a while and then headed off westwards. Lioness walking next to the vehicle on the H3 heading towards S112. 2 lioness and 2 cubs lying on a rock up at klipspringer koppies, soaking up the late afternoon sunrays as well as 4 wild dog on the road 3kms from napi boulders exit. Seemed like they were getting ready to start a late afternoon hunt.

General animals seen throughout the day was as follows:

Giraffe, waterbuck, impala, warthog, hippos, kudu, zebra, steenbok, common duiker.

Still no leopard, but will give it my best shot tomorrow

On Deans Open Vehicle:

21 August 2013

After picking up 7 guests from OR Tambo International Airport we arrived at Nkambeni Tented Safari Camp, after doing the necessary  checking in, guests had the chance to have some lunch and a rest after the drive from Johannesburg before leaving on their afternoons game drive.

Afternoon drive:

We left camp at 15h00 getting buffalo on the camp access road we continued up the Numbi gate tar getting impala and kudu. We turned onto Napi road making our way in the direction of Shithave dam, about two kilometers before the dam, we came across a herd of elephants feeding in the valley. After enjoying the sighting we made our way down to the dam getting sightings of impala, waterbuck, Egyptian geese as well as a grey heron.

We made our way back to (Road cannot be named due to poaching). We come across a nice male rhino as he walked next to the road. We continued on turning onto Napi boulders loop. Not much was seen here. We made our way back onto Napi Road taking the direction back to camp.

We made our way along Napi Road coming back to the sighting of the elephants which had got a lot closer to the road. We watched the elephants for a while as they got closer.

As we were enjoying the sighting, a female leopard decided to cross the road and take a closer look at some young kudu nearby, this proved to be a quick sighting as nothing really materialized.

We made our way back to camp, arriving just before 18h00, in time for guests to enjoy a good dinner in Africa.

22 August 2013

This morning, after breakfast, we made our way out of camp, getting the buffalo back on the camp access road. We made our way down the Numbi Gate tar getting some elephant and kudu before turning on (Road cannot be named due to poaching)as we made our way down, we come upon another sighting of rhino, we carried on and enjoyed another leopard sighting just 2.7 kilometers from the napi boulders exit. We continued in a easterly direction getting a sighting of two wild dogs close to the flat rocks on Napi Road, we also enjoyed good sightings of zebra, impala, wildebeest and giraffe.

While making our way to Skukuza for a break, and going past Deleport waterhole, we got a call of lions lying close to the road 1.4 kilometres down the S114. We made our way in that direction, and were lucky to find two males lying close to the road. After enjoying the sighting, we made our way to Skukuza for the break.

After a good break, and leaving the camp, we got another call of lions on the Tshokwane tar that had made a kill. We made our way there, getting a good sighting of them eating on a buffalo they had killed next to the Sand River. After enjoying the sighting we went on getting more sightings of elephant, leopard, lion, hippo, giraffe and buffalo.

We made our way to the Skukuza Golf Club for lunch getting another sighting of hippo's.

After lunch, we made our way back to Nkambeni Safari Camp on Napi Road, getting great sightings of buffalo, elephant, zebra, impala, giraffe, wildebeest and wharthog. More rhino sightings were also experienced.

We got back to camp at 16h15, with just fifteen minutes before guests had to leave on their afternoon / evening drive.

23 August 2013

Another day in Africa awaits us. It was up early and after breakfast we headed out.

This morning’s drive we went on the Numbi Gate Tar – Napi Road – Shithave dam as well as Boulders

We got a great sighting of a pride of lions chasing sub adult lions who wondered to close.

Further to this sightings include elephant, rhino as well as another sighting of lions at Napi Boulders Entrance.

Keep watching for more updates!! 

Rhino Poaching Update


Thursday, August 22, 2013

SANParks Announces Successful Operator For Skukuza Airport

The South African National Parks (SANParks) has today announced the appointment of a preferred operator for the Skukuza Airport in the iconic Kruger National Park.

SANParks, Chief Executive Officer, Dr. David Mabunda said the successful bid was submitted by the Skukuza Airport Management Company (Pty) Ltd jointly owned by Lion Sands, Federal Air and Airlink. The consortium will sign a Public Private Partnership (PPP) agreement with SANParks for a period of ten years.


The announcement follows a lengthy process of technical evaluation and adjudication of bids submitted in response to a Request for Proposals issued in April 2013.

According to Dr. Mabunda this development will benefit SANParks’ long haul clients and those from major centers who will no longer be subjected to a two hour drive from Nelspruit to the Kruger National Park. “We are reliving a tradition that started in 1959 to enhance visitor convenience and experience and we are looking forward to working with our new partners in taking the business of managing national parks assets to another level.”

In reacting to the announcement, Robert More, Lion Sands Co-founder and CEO said it is an absolute privilege to be involved in this venture. “Our lodges are all in close proximity to Skukuza and our customers will benefit significantly from re-opening the Skukuza airport to scheduled air services”.

C
arl Trieloff, Commercial Director of Special Projects at Fed Air added, “We are proud to be part of the consortium behind the winning bid. We are looking forward to providing visitors the opportunity to experience a high quality affordable bushveld experience”.

Rodger Foster, Airlink’s CEO responded by saying his company is delighted to be in the consortium and looking forward to delivering scheduled air services to Skukuza, and access to all lodges within the Skukuza precinct. This is going to make travelling to the Kruger National Park simpler and affordable.

Skukuza Airport Management Company will be given access to the Skukuza airport facility from 1 September 2013, in order to commence with the alterations and improvements essential to bringing the airport to the international standard, which will include rehabilitation of the runway.

It is envisaged that the airport upgrades should be substantially completed by 1 November 2013 to achieve the necessary licensing by the SA Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA). It is anticipated that the licensing process will be completed before the first quarter of 2014 with scheduled flights set to commence in March 2014.


In conclusion, Dr. Mabunda said, SANParks was highly impressed with the successful bidder’s operational plan for the airport and its associated air services. “This included a comprehensive environmental management plan to limit the noise impact of operations overarching minimized environmental impact philosophy.”

Issued by:
South African National Parks Corporate Communications

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The SANParks Research Report 2012

The South African National Parks (SANParks) recently published its Research Report for 2012.

The report was inspired by an earlier assessment of selected research achievements in SANParks for the period 2008 to 2011. The objective was to reflect on our achievements as well as to showcase the (scope of) research conducted within the organisation, with particular emphasis on 2012; this is actually the first time such an annual research report has been produced within SANParks.

Contributions were solicited from throughout Scientific Services, with far many more received than were able to be accommodated (which is in itself a reflection of the scope and diversity of our research).


The report does not intend to be an all-encompassing break-down of the research carried out, but rather attempts to highlight the scope and function of the research undertaken, how this research underpins the management of the SANParks estate, the burgeoning focus on social-ecological research, and the people involved (including external collaborators and research partners), their objectives and the challenges facing them.

View the SANParks Research Report 2012:
http://bit.ly/1f1sOwA

Issued by:
South African National Parks

Introducing A New Safari

4 DAY BEST OF BOTH WORLDS SAFARI

Have the chance to experience the Kruger National Park as well as the Panorama Route all in one.. Follow the link to view the full Itinerary and cost http://www.nhongosafaris.co.za/index.php/African-Safaris/4-day-best-of-both-worlds-safari-3-nights.html

 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

SANDF Soldier Killed In Kruger National Park

A soldier has been killed during an operation in the Kruger National Park, the SA National Defence Force said on Monday.

Private Thabiso Zulu, of Regiment East Rand, was deployed on Sunday with 2 SA Infantry Battalion.

“(He) was allegedly involved in a fatal shooting incident whilst on duty during Operation Corona in the Kruger National Park,” said Brig-Gen Xolani Mabanga.

A board of inquiry had been convened to investigate the shooting incident, he said.
Mabanga declined to comment on circumstances surrounding Zulu's death. He said further information would be released once the investigation had been completed.

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Ngqakula expressed condolences to the soldier's relatives.

By:
 South African Press Association

Poaching Update

Poachers Update‬: 19/08 - In a joint SANParks Rangers and SAPS Intelligence driven operation outside the park, 3 suspects operating in Manyeleti, Sabie Sands and KNP were arrested. A .375 rifle with silencer, 9mm pistol, ammo, stolen vehicle and other hunting equipment were recovered.

Rhino Poaching Update

Poachers Update‬: 19/08 - ‪Crocodile Bridge‬ Rangers made contact with 2 suspected poachers. 1 suspect with a firearm was wounded and arrested - firearm and rhino horns were recovered. The 2nd suspect managed to escape arrest back to ‪‎Mozambique‬.

Monday, August 19, 2013

On Safari With Mark

Mark has been a very busy guide for the last nine days of being on Safari.

12 August 2013

The highlight of this day was definitely the sightings of a Lioness and her cubs and the herd of over 400 buffalo.

Route: napi - eloff - lower sabi - eloff - napi - Nkambeni

General game viewing was great today with the following animals seen:

Kudu, giraffe, warthog, impala, waterbuck, zebra, mongoose, steenbok, common duiker, nylala, bushbuck, klipspringer, vervet monkeys, chackma baboon and spotted hyaena and lots of birds seen.

Both black and white rhino

A herd of 400 buffalo

Lioness with her 2 cubs

2 male lions lying sleeping on Marola loop

7 different herds of elephant

A young female leopard at boulders exit

Just got to show clients a cheetah and wild dogs then they have seen it all

13th August 2013

After breakfast this morning we went in search of Cheetah and Wild Dogs as guests had a fantastic day on the 12th August. The morning was a bit slow and guests were departing the park by 11h00am after which new guests were arriving for another three day safari. General game was spotted early morning.

My new guests arrived from the United States and we went straight to Nkambeni Camp for lunch and then for an afternoon drive where we once again had a bit of a slow start to the day with sightings of general game before returning to camp late afternoon.

14 August 2013

Route: napi - H3 - doispan - albaseni

General game seen was giraffe, klipspringer, zebra, impala, waterbuck, kudu, warthog, steenbok, chackma baboons, vervet monkeys, common diukers, bushbuck, hyaena and rhino was seen on our drive today.

We had a pride of 9 lions lying in the riverbed just past Eco entrance on eloff.

2 different elephant herds crossed over the napi (1 at boulders exit and 1 near the S114 napi junction.

Buffalo bulls seen on eloff crossing over to have a drink in the river

2 African rock pythons just past high level bridge on eloff. Both lying basking in the sun. Wow can you believe the snakes are out already?

A total of 10 southern ground hornbills for the day.

No leopard, so we will just have to try and get one tomorrow.

Temperature was 36.7 deg today. Other guests arrived late afternoon and then all went on a Sundowner driver with the rangers from Nkambeni.

15 August 2013

Route: Napi - eloff - Napi - Nkambeni camp

General sightings: giraffe, zebra, common duiker, warthog, kudu, waterbuck, steenbok, baboons, monkeys, hippos, nile crocodiles, buffalo's and rhino's

As we started our drive, we found 3 sable antelope on the Numbi tar (1 bull, 1 cow and a sub adult). This was an awesome sighting!

2 male lions lying in the shade of a gwaribush approx 200m from napi on S114.

At lower sabi, we got word of 3 female that had just killed a warthog. We responded and found them 500m down saliti from highlevel link. Warthog was almost finished and only entrails was still lying in spot they killed it.

Further to that the drive back to camp was rather quiet, with only general game spotted.

Still no leopard, will try before we exit the park.

16th August 2013

This morning guests left at 10h00am to return to Johannesburg and we are having a well deserved two day break before returning to the bush on the 19th August 2013 with new guests. We shall see what we can find on their arrival.


Till then! ………………………………

Friday, August 16, 2013

South African National Parks happy with Poacher’s Sentencing

The South African National Parks (SANParks) today, 16 August 2013, welcomed the prison sentence meted out to a Mozambican National convicted of rhino poaching by the Nelspruit Regional Court.

Leonard Mhlongo and his accomplice Kenneth Sibiya were arrested by the Kruger National Park Rangers on the 19 January 2013 in the Tshokwane section of the iconic Kruger National Park (KNP). They were found in possession of three horns from a black rhino cow and her calf.

Mhlongo was found guilty on two counts of rhino poaching and trespass in the KNP. On count one of trespass he was sentenced to a four year prison term, then on count two of poaching an adult black rhino he was sentenced to ten years and given an eight year sentence for the poaching of a juvenile black rhino. The eight and ten year sentences will run concurrently.

His co accused, Kenneth Sibiya absconded after being given bail earlier in the year. Their third accomplice, who was in possession of the rifle managed to evade arrest and escaped back into Mozambique.


Officer Commanding Special Projects in the Kruger National Park, Major General (RET) Johan Jooste welcomed the conviction and sentencing “On behalf of our men and women on the ground, we’d like to congratulate the prosecuting team led by Isbet Erwee, the investigators who worked tirelessly to close any loopholes and the court for the steep sentence meted out yesterday. I would like to also congratulate my team for their part in arresting these criminals and preserving the crime scene. This battle is going to be won from outside and we welcome these kind of developments” concluded Jooste.

Meanwhile Jooste also welcomed the cooperation that is being provided by his counterparts in Mozambique, saying that the visit by the Minister of Environmental and Water Affairs to that country has contributed to a good working relationship that is taking shape and hopefully will turn the tide against poachers and their handlers.

Issued By:
 South African National Parks

Rhino Poacher Sentenced To 14 Years

A man was sentenced in effect to 14 years in prison for poaching by the Nelspruit Regional Court on Thursday.

A Sapa correspondent reported that rangers arrested 21-year-old Leonard Mhlongo, from Mozambique, and his co-accused Kenneth Sibiya, in the Mjokwane section of the Kruger National Park (KNP) on January 19.

They had killed and dehorned a black rhino cow and its calf.

Prosecutor Isbet Erwee told the court the two men were found in possession of three black rhino horns, two from the cow and one from its calf. She said a third suspect, who carried the rifle used in the killing, escaped when the two men were arrested.

The two faced charges of entering the KNP to commit a restricted activity without obtaining permission from management, and two charges of performing a restricted activity in a designated area.

"The other accused, Sibiya, skipped bail and has disappeared. Police are tracking his whereabouts," Erwee said.

In a statement read out in court, Mhlongo, who worked in Mozambique and earned 3700 meticals (about R1230) per month, said Sibiya fetched him from home and invited him to come work in South Africa.

"I did unlawfully cross and enter the border into the Kruger National Park with Sibiya. After we met up with another man inside the park, it was when I realised what they wanted us to do," he said.

"I had no authority to kill the two rhinos and I request the court for a fine as I plan to raise R20,000 to pay,” he said.

In passing sentence, magistrate Edward Hall said that according to Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa, if no solution was found to stop the killing of rhinos, there would be none left in the country by 2026.

"It is a nationwide problem as we read in newspapers every day. The accused is from Mozambique and a second one skipped bail, which shows the attitude of poachers.

"To enter illegally in the KNP with a firearm is a planned criminal activity. The calf could have been saved and been there for generations to come, but it was killed together with its mother,” Hall said.

Hall said the number of rhino killed in the current year to August exceeded last year’s figure by 140.

He sentenced Mhlongo to four years in prison for entering the KNP illegally, 10 years for killing the rhino cow, and eight years for killing the calf. The eight years would run concurrently with the 10 years. Mhlongo was declared unfit to own a firearm.

By:
 South African Press Association

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Criminal Networks In Rhino Horn Trade

It takes just 48 hours for a rhino horn to go from a live rhino in South Africa to a shop in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Poachers go into a reserve on foot under the cover of night, without a torch. They received a tip about a rhino's whereabouts and track it. They shoot the rhino using a silencer, then shoot its young calf in the chest as it tries to defend its mother. The rhino falls, and the poachers quickly start cutting out the horn, hacking deeply into the rhino's face to get as much of the horn out as possible. They do not check to see if the rhino is actually dead. The shooting and dehorning process takes just 10 minutes in the early hours of the morning. The rhino is left in shock, missing half her face, and her traumatized calf remains at her side.

Just 12 hours later, the horn has been trucked to Mozambique where it will board a plane to Vietnam. Twelve hours after this, the horn is in Vietnam and is passed on to an illegal dealer. Another 12 hours, and the horn is for sale in a shop in Hanoi.

This demonstrates the efficiency and complexity of the criminal syndicates at work here. With eight or more people in the chain, investigations are very difficult. Each person in the syndicate only has contact with the person directly above and below him, so arresting people at the bottom does not increase chances of catching the middlemen or people at the top. At the very bottom of the chain is often a farm laborer who spots the rhino and communicates its location -- without even knowing who gets this information, or why they need it. Each level of the chain gets more money than the person below them, and the horn is passed up until it gets to its final destination, usually in Vietnam or China.

We need to understand these criminal networks to curb illegal trade. However, changing trafficking patterns and their general complexity makes it difficult. There are harvesting networks, theft networks, and distribution networks that work together, making up links in the supply chain for illegal rhino horn trade. Some networks are opportunistic, and others fit the definition of organized crime. General knowledge is slowly growing, but we do not yet have enough information on what makes these networks so resilient. Despite anti-poaching units, military that has been brought in, and other deterrent techniques, illegal trading continues, bringing huge profits to poachers and middlemen, which is only further incentive for poaching and more illegal trade.


Poaching has the capacity to drive rhinos, as well as other species, to extinction. So what makes these poaching networks so resilient? What makes them stable, or able to bounce back when interfered with? The few challenges that criminal networks face are law enforcement, deterrents in the form of dye, poison, or dehorning, and environmental jolts. But these illicit networks have many sources of resilience: the complexity of the networks, the bush environment in which they function, and community support for their criminal activity. Syndicates are small, but with long chains. Each role within the networks is highly specialized as well -- poachers have usually grown up in the bush, and are skilled trackers who can live there for weeks. Some syndicates have access to expensive equipment, but even those that do not gain resilience by being supported by their communities: For example, poachers in Mozambique are often conspicuous and proud of their newfound wealth.
We need to break down these illegal networks and reduce poaching. It will be difficult, but not impossible. We need to increase penalties for poachers and middlemen, and strengthen enforcement strategies. More rangers and anti-poaching units on the ground, in addition to more training and better equipment, has also been shown to make a difference.

Interventions including dye and poison and DNA barcoding are also helpful. Involving local communities in protecting the rhinos near them is key: hire them as anti-poachers; educate them about rhino poaching.

You can help. Funds are always needed -- just make sure the NGO you choose is legitimate. But the easiest way to help make a difference in the war on rhino poaching is spreading global awareness and educating those around you. Together, we can make rhino horn a social taboo, and save the species from imminent extinction. Let's not let rhinos go extinct on our watch.

By:
 Natalie Lapides
 The Huffington Post

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Field ranger, field guides and traffic officials back in court over rhino poaching

Three former SA National Parks (SANParks) employees, a provincial traffic officer and a former traffic official, all accused of rhino poaching, appeared in the Nelspruit Regional Court on Tuesday.

Former SANParks field ranger Tiyani Mabunda, 25, and former field guides Charles Mabunda, 29, and Duncan Mnisi, 34, appeared alongside provincial traffic officer Ellaraine Jennifer Brown, 28, and former traffic official Doctor Ngwenyama, 33.

On Tuesday, the court rejected an application to strike the rhino poaching charges against the five from the court roll, following a request by defence lawyer Erwin Sithole.
The defence, which applied on August 6 for the State to provide them with documents and affidavits signed by a commissioner of oaths, said the State had responded to their request.

However, the copies received were not properly completed, and some were unsigned.

Magistrate Andre Geldenhuys advised the defence to put together another application for proper documentation by September 30.

The State will be allowed to respond by November 18, and if not done we will place the matter to stand in court for the state and defence to discuss further,” he said.
Geldenhuys said if all went well the trial would begin on December 2.

Ngwenyama, Mnisi and the two Mabundas were arrested in February last year after two white rhino carcasses were discovered in the Pretoriuskop section of the Kruger National Park.

Brown, who is married to Ngwenyama, was arrested in May this year, after she was suspected of having transported a rhino horn out of the park.

She first appeared in the White River Magistrate's Court last June, and was released on R5000 bail.

The case was transferred to the Nelspruit Regional Court so it could be combined with her husband's and the three other men.


All the accused are out on bail.

By:
 South African Press Association

Monday, August 12, 2013

On Safari With Mark From 8 August 2013

8 August 2013

Route: Napi - Eloff (alpha & bravo loop) - Napi – Nkambeni Tented Camp

A early mornings start with guests today to see what Africa will bring us. The drive started out quiet down Napi with general game spotted.Giraffe, kudu, waterbuck, warthog, rhino, impala, and a herd of elephant on their way to drink water. Great photos of hippos and crocodiles out of the Sabi river enjoying the sun.

On our return we heard about a leopard at klipspringer koppies and proceeded in that direction but on arrival it had already moved on. 3 x buffalo bulls near to boulders exit.
Further to this it was a very quiet drive back to camp with once again general game and not much else available.

9 August 2013

Route: Napi - Skakuza - Napi – Nkambeni Tented Camp

A new day awaits us. We headed out early hoping to find some Cats for the guests.

On our drive we had many general animal sightings during the course of the morning and afternoon. Sightings include Kudu, impala, warthog, common duiker, steenbok, zebra, giraffe, waterbuck, vervet monkeys, hippos and klipspringer. Different sightings of buffalo's throughout the day with most of them right on the road. 4 different sightings of male elephants. No herds as yet. 4 lions in the sabi riverbed all lying enjoying the morning sun. 5 lions lying on the opposite side of transport dam. We then heard that 6 lions had caught a giraffe and killed it 2kms from shithave dam we proceeded in that direction and found them about 20m off the road all lying flat as carpets, stomachs full.

Afternoon drive was quite, due to the Change in weather conditions (cold and wet). We then headed back to camp for the evening hoping for a warmer better day tomorrow.

10 August 2013

Route: Napi - Nkambeni - Albaseni - Doispan - Albaseni – Nkambeni Tented Camp

Great general game was experienced today with sightings of Giraffe, waterbuck, kudu, impala, warthog, steenbuck, vervet monkeys, zebra and klipspringer. We decided to go check if our lion friends were still lying eating on the giraffe they had killed yesterday morning on our return, the pride had moved off and the vultures had started feeding on the remains. Further to this we had a quiet days game viewing with my clients wanting to do some birding.

Great variety of birds seen for the afternoon and clients were very happy with their photos.

While driving around we got a interesting sighting of a rock hyrax running down the road due to a honey badger in the area which must of disturbed it and hence why it came running down the road.

After a good laugh and some photos we moved on to camp for a good evenings rest.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Anti-Rhino Poaching “War” To Take On New Intensity

The combined efforts of rangers, soldiers and police has not brought about a meaningful drop in the number of rhinos killed for their horn this year but hopes are high that this will change following a meeting between South African conservation enforcement agencies and their Mozambican counterparts.

Part of an overall plan to fine-tune anti-poaching operations involves cross border operations to pursue and arrest Mozambicans who kill rhinos in the Kruger National Park, Johannesburg daily The Times reported. Those arrested on suspicion of rhino poaching will be extradited to South Africa to face charges in local courts.

With up to 90% of poachers reportedly from Mozambique, retired SA Army Major General Johan Jooste told the paper: “Law enforcement should not be side-lined by international borders”.

Latest statistics issued by the Department of Environment Affairs show that 334 of the 536 rhinos killed so far this year have been Kruger animals.

The current rate of poaching shows the country is losing 2.5 rhinos a day to the high-powered hunting rifles of poachers. If the carnage continues at the same rate until December 31, the national rhino population could be down by close on 920, well up on last year’s loss figure of 668.

While poaching continues unabated, operations by rangers, soldiers and other law enforcement agencies are improving the arrest success rate. The first seven months of the year saw 147 arrests for poaching and related criminal activities, 120 less than for 2012. With Kruger the favoured target of poachers, the iconic game reserve also accounts for the highest number of arrests at 64. An indication of the effect the more militaristic approach to anti-poaching operations in the park is having can be gathered from last year’s total arrest figure of 73.

Jooste has been in overall charge of SANParks anti-poaching operations since the beginning of the year in line with what the national conservation agency’s chief executive, Dr David Mabunda, has called “the low-intensity war” against poachers.

He told the paper co-ordination between South African and Mozambican law enforcement agencies was “dismal”.

“A poacher will run across the border and fire victory shots. He will sit in sight of the ranger and smoke because rangers dare not cross that line (the border).

“Should a SANParks official or a soldier shoot a poacher across the border it would create a serious international incident and might be seen as an act of war.”

The retired two star general said the “insurgency war” was changing the face of Kruger with new security technology on the way. This includes putting down cables that pick up vibrations in the ground and the use of aircraft with sensitive surveillance equipment able to “see” 50 km beyond the park’s borders.

By:
 Kim Helfrich

Illegal Ivory, Rhino Horns and Leopard Skins Worth R 53 million Seized In Hong Kong

A shipment of illegal ivory, rhino horns and leopard skins worth $ 5,3million (R 53million) was seized in Hong Kong’s second big bust of endangered species products in a month.

The haul is also the latest in a string of big ivory seizures over the past year in the southern Chinese city.

Some 1120 ivory tusks, 13 rhino horns and five pieces of leopard skin weighing a total of 2266 kilograms were confiscated at Hong Kong’s port, the government announced yesterday.

They were found on Tuesday hidden in a shipping container declared to be wood from Nigeria.

Wildlife activists say China’s growing presence in Africa is to blame for an unprecedented surge in poaching of elephants for their tusks. Most of these are believed to be smuggled into China and Thailand to make ivory ornaments.


By:
 South African Press Association - Associated Press

On Safari with Dean from 31 July 2013

31 July 2013

Guests were picked up at  OR Tambo International Airport at 10:00am after loading the vehicle we left Johannesburg and made our way through to Nelspruit and then onto Nkambeni Tented Camp, we did not do a drive the this day due to guests getting into Johannesburg from Cape Town mid morning and us only reached the Kruger National Park late in the afternoon. Guests enjoyed the late afternoon/evening in the camp getting geared up for the next early morning.

1 August 2013

We left Nkambeni Tented Camp early and made our way down the Numbi gate tar and onto Napi Road down to Skukuza for a break.

Animals seen on this drive were:

Elephant, buffalo, impala, kudu, hyena, giraffe, baboon and hippo.

After our break we took a drive around the Sabie River, going along Elloff street and over the high water bridge, down Tshokwane road and then back to Skukuza for a good lunch.

Animals seen were:

Waterbuck, hippo, elephant, rhino, buffalo, as well as ten lions close to the high water bridge, as well as more about two kilometres further on. Down the Tshokwane tar, we came across a lot of bird species, as well as elephant and buffalo. We then returned to Nkambeni Tented Camp for the evening.

2 August 2013

Today after enjoying a good breakfast, we went out on the road early again to see what we could find.

We made our way down Napi Road and managed to find more good sightings of elephant, rhino, buffalo, as well as a great cheetah sighting of a very pregnant cheetah walking down the fire break looking for a place to give birth to her cubs. After spending quite a time with her rolling in the dung next to our open vehicle as well as sniffing around, she was off just a quick as she had come.

We continued onto Skukuza camp for a break, getting more baboons, giraffe, impala, kudu, common duiker, as well as some good bird species such as the Ground Hornbills. After our break, it was out on the road again going down Doispane road and then up Albasini and back to camp so guests could go on their night drive. On the drive back numerous impala, kudu, wildebeest, elephant and rhino sightings were enjoyed.

3 August 2013

Another early morning  again to see what this new day in Africa will bring us as it was the clients last day. We went all out to find a leopard. After travelling around the area, we made our way down Napi Road and into Shithave dam, the dam was quiet with little to no activity, as this has been the case this winter with a lot of the dams in the area.

Our transfer vehicle arrived with more guests from Johannesburg starting their safari and other guests returning to Johannesburg leaving their safari with us to get on their flight back to the Cayman Islands.

After transferring guests to the transfer vehicle and then receiving new ones, we went to the camp of Pretoriuskop for lunch and then it was out on the drive to see what we could find.

We took a drive down  Napi road to the Watergat junction, before turning around and returning to the Nkambeni Safari Camp for the night.
 
Animals seen were:

Elephant, rhino, impala, kudu, waterbuck and giraffe.

4 August 2013

It was up early to enjoy breakfast, and then it was out onto the road to see what today brings.

We drove down to the camp of Skukuza for a break before proceeding back to the Numbi gate to receive more guests taking them through to the camp for lunch and a break, before proceeding out on another drive.

Animals seen were:

Elephant, rhino, buffalo, impala, kudu, waterbuck, giraffe, baboon, common duiker and vervet monkeys.

On the way back to camp, we came across a great honey badger crossing the road, he proceeded to play next to the open vehicle, before going up and sitting on a termite mound for a while, a real busy body as he went along.

The afternoon drive was slow as it was a colder day so fewer animals were seen but we still managed to enjoy sightings of impala, kudu, waterbuck, elephant, rhino ( at a distance ) as well as giraffe.

Everybody was glad to get back to camp and have a warm room with some good food.

5 August 2013

After a good night with a good breakfast, it was out again onto the road, and it was not long before we got our first sighting of elephant as well as buffalo close to the gate. We went on and found more elephant, rhino, buffalo, giraffe, warthog, hyena ( twice ), giraffe, baboons, as well as a leopard on the S114, close to Steenbok Plains. After a great sighting, it was off t the camp of Skukuza for a break, before leaving again on another game drive, this time going around the triangle close to skukuza.

Out on drive, we managed to find elephant, rhino, buffalo, ground hornbills, vervet monkeys, baboon as well as another leopard off the high water bridge.

We then made our way back to Skukuza for lunch, before returning to the camp via Doispane and  Albasini road.

We managed to get good sightings of rhino, buffalo, impala, kudu, lions in the Sabie River line, wildebeest as well as baboon on the way back.

Some guests were going on their game drive, so everyone asked to have an early afternoon back at the camp.

6 August 2013

Everybody was up early today, well rested and ready for the day. After breakfast it was out to see what we could find as it was some of the guests last morning with us, we went around the inner circle close to the camp of Pretoriuskop as well as Fayi loop, getting elephant, rhino, waterbuck and baboons.

We then made our way down to Shithave dam and onto boulders loop, getting elephant, impala and kudu.

After dropping guests off to return to Johannesburg, we made our way down to the camp of Skukuza for a break.

Animals seen were:

Elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard. We then returned to Napi Road and back to camp.

Guests went on a night safari, and got another leopard.

7 August 2013

After getting up to a warmer morning, it was out early again and soon after getting onto the road, we came across our first sighting of impala and kudu.

We made our way down Napi Road and got a great sighting of sable antelope. We then managed to find rhino close to the road for the guests as well as elephant, giraffe, impala,
kudu, baboon and klipspringer. We then went into camp for a break.

After our break, we went back on napi road and found plus minus 250 buffalo crossing the road at klipspringer koppies as well as a lioness lying about three kilometres down the H3.

After this we returned to camp for lunch.

After lunch, guests were back on the open safari vehicle to see what they could find.
Afternoon drive consisted of rhino, waterbuck, kudu, impala, warthog, buffalo and giraffe. We then proceeded to Camp as guests were leaving in the morning for the Panorama Route then Johannesburg.

8 August 2013

Dean returns from the Kruger National Park today going via the Panorama Route before saying goodbye to the guests at their destination of choice in Johannesburg. 

Rhino Poaching Update

The number of people arrested for rhino poaching-related offences has risen to to 148. http://bit.ly/1eshARB

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

R 1 Million Donation To Fight Rhino Poaching

In the last 11 months, for each vehicle sold within the 10 participating dealerships, Unitrans Volkswagen has pledged funds to fight rhino poaching in SANParks. At the end of July 2013 this amount stands at a fantastic R 1 175 500.

This phenomenal contribution which is assured to fight rhino poaching within the SA National Parks comes from the company’s bottom line and is related directly to motor vehicle sales (both new and pre-owned) made within the Unitrans Volkswagen group of dealers. Unitrans Volkswagen in co-operation with the SANParks Honorary Rangers ensures that every cent of this bequest is used to fight poaching and that no funds are used for administration purposes. Unitrans Volkswagen thanks all their clients who have supported them for making this donation possible without compromising price and service.

Unitrans Volkswagen initiated the Unite against Poaching trust to ensure that the rangers on the ground are adequately equipped to fight the ruthless poachers they are faced with on a day to day basis. There is no doubt that this objective is being met. Last year over R 3 million was spent ensuring that the field rangers have the basic equipment which allows them to spend prolonged periods in the bush. The funds this year are being deployed for specialist training to ensure that the rangers facing the poachers have the latest counter insurgency skills to successfully track and capture the poachers as well as making sure the forensic evidence to support successful prosecution is provided.

This year alone 540 rhinos have been poached in the country. Unitrans Volkswagen is committed to sustainable support for the fight against poaching. The Unite against Poaching trust fund has also been the major sponsor in establishing the Unitrans Tracker Hounds project in the Kruger National Park. These hounds have been identified as one of the pivotal tools in the war against rhino poaching and their deployment has already seen the successful apprehension of rhino poachers.

Unitrans Volkswagen has also stepped up to address the scientific requirement in the prosecution of rhino poachers. Last year R 500 000 was donated to the rhino DNA project , RhODIS at Onderstepoort, which hosts the rhino DNA database for Southern Africa and provides forensic evidence for every single rhino poaching case in the country. Due to the critical demands placed on the genetic analyser by RhODIS, urgent repairs of R 40 000 were required which Unitrans Volkswagen have settled.

Since the inception of the Unite against Poaching initiative in September 2011, Unitrans Volkswagen have pledged a phenomenal R 6 546 650 to supporting the fight against rhino poaching.

By:
 Unitrans Volkswagen | Unite Against Poaching Trust Fund

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Message To All Poachers!!

To all Poachers you will not win this battle, we will protect our rhino at all costs!!!!

Did You Know??

#DidYouKnow? A female leopard usually gives birth to a litter of two or three cubs. The offspring are born with coats of smoky gray, while their spots are not yet clearly distinguishable. The mother usually keeps the cubs hidden for the first 8 weeks. She suckles them for 3 months or longer, and gives them a taste of meat at the 6th to 7th week. She will stay in one place with them, till the time they are able to accompany her on her wanderings.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Joint Operations Between SANParks And SANDF Making A Difference Against Rhino Poaching

Rhino has cost South Africa a financial loss of about R228 million with the 333 rhinos poached last year alone. These are the statistics according to the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA); it is for this reason and the need to protect rhinos that the country is going all out to counter poachers.

The deployment of South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members at the Kruger National Park has brought confidence that rhino poaching can be extinguished. The SANDF deployed 265 soldiers at Kruger National Park and the borders around the park in March this year, following a plea for help by the South African National Parks (SANParks).
In an interview with Defence magazine, Colonel Nceba Bobelo, Officer Commanding for Joint Operations Tactical Headquaters in Mpumalanga, said “Operation Corona” was making a huge difference in the fight against poachers. The Army brought in its expertise to beef up a team of Park Rangers, which was overwhelmed by the by increasing killing of rhinos for their horns.

"We've got one Intelligence Tactical Regiment from Potchefstroom, which specialises in intelligence gathering. Special Forces and 21 Batallion, both in the park and on the borders," says Colonel Bobelo. The ground troops are supported by helicopters for a speedy chase of poachers. "The helicopters contribute a lot in terms of identifying areas where poachers are operating," he adds. Colonel Says that it became increasingly important to rope in the army when syndicates began using helicopters, night vision equipment and high-powered rifles in their expedition. The army is part of the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS), which has role players that include the South African Police Service (SAPS) and SANParks, assisted by the intelligence arms of both the SANDF and the Police. The team also includes the National Prosecuting Authority and magistrates. “We established the joint command centre where we could all meet and share information for planning purposes. The magistrates attend our meetings so that they can understand the important role they need to play in giving rhino poaching cases speedy attention” says Colonel Bobelo.

The Kruger National Park is the country's worst affected by rhino poaching. The annual statistics are always the highest in this internationally' acclaimed tourist destination, with the 2010 figures standing at 146. This environment also makes the park a dangerous place to operate a counter-poaching project from. Colonel Bobelo knows that ail too well: The game is different here at Kruger National Park because the poachers that come from other countries, particularly Mozambique, are armed with AK47s, grenades and axes. They don't play, these poachers mean business" he adds.

Colonel Bobelo confirms that more than 10 suspected poachers had been killed with more than 56 arrested since the SANDF's deployment in this region. The killing of poachers was a result of a shoot-out when the rhino killers attacked SANDF members patrolling the park. Fortunately for the SANDF, the military did not lose a single member in the shoot-out with poachers. Colonel Bobelo says many of the poachers are former Mozambican soldiers and are well trained to fight. Within three months of the SANDF's arrival at the Kruger National Park, rhino poaching cases dropped from 40 in March to just two in June. But poachers always device new strategies and return for more horns.

Rhino poaching is a lucrative business for poachers as one rhino horn translates to around R1 million incomes for poachers. Colonel Bobelo explains: "They move in groups of three. The sniper who's going to shoot the rhino gets R500 000, the one with an axe and the third one get R250 000 each". But is that worth the risk of being killed in a confrontation with the soldiers? Colonel Bobelo says it's because the promise to come back with the rhino horn has got to be fulfilled at all costs. "These people are desperate because we are told they get a deposit from leaders of the syndicates before they carry out the job. Some of the poachers are young unemployed South African men driven by poverty and lured by foreign syndicates to do the dirty job in exchange for attractive amounts of money" adds a concerned Colonel Bobelo.

The biggest focus was on rhino poaching but Colonel Bobelo says, as a result of the military's presence in this area, there has been visible reduction in the crime rate. "We have brought in a big change, not only with poaching, but we have also reduced the illegal trading of goods and illegal crossing at the border," he tells Defence magazine. The South African Constitution stipulates that the SANDF shall protect the territorial integrity and safeguard the sovereignty of the republic. This task was combined with rhino poaching as it also involves illegal activities across the borders. Colonel Bobelo says other crimes such as the smuggling of vehicles and livestock have also decreased.

For operations such as Operation CORONA to be successful, all stakeholders need to buy into the plan and this is what happened with communities that live around the Kruger National Park. “The community is very helpful, we arrested some or the poachers on information we received from members of the community,” says Colonel Bobelo. According to Colonel Bobelo, once soldiers have arrested suspected poachers, they hand them over to the police at Skukuza Police Station based at the Kruger National Park for processes of prosecution to be followed. But before suspects are handed over, members of the SANDF follow procedures of their own. “We take photos of the suspects; photos of their weapons and the rhino horn and then we interrogate them” he adds. The interrogation is led by Park Rangers and members of the SAPS who form part or patrolling teams.

While the SANDF has worked hard to apprehend rhino poachers, the prosecution is often hampered by irregularities in the justice system. “It seems these syndicates have infiltrated our forces” says Colonel Babelo. “Within two months we had over 56 arrests but the dockets got lost. Once the dockets have gone missing the case is over and the suspects are released” he adds in frustration. But Colonel Bolelo says the army will not be discouraged and will continue to use its intelligence arm to counter syndicates and everyone who helps the rhino poachers.

By:
 Department of Defence