Soldiers lie in wait for Kruger rhino poachers

Rhino poaching incidents have dropped significantly in the Kruger National Park since the deployment of the army earlier this year, Beeld newspaper reported on Thursday.

Brigadier General Koos Liebenberg told the Afrikaans daily that there had been a marked decline since the start of Operation Corona in March.

He said there were 40 rhino poaching cases in March, which dropped to 30 in April, 15 in May and two in June.

No rhinos have been poached in the Kruger National Park so far this month.

Last year, 333 rhinos were shot dead in the park, which led to authorities turning to the SA National Defence Force for help.

The defence force announced in April it would be deploying troops on the country’s borders.

In all, 22 groups of 165 soldiers each would be deployed on the borders in five phases over the next five years, Acting Chief of the SANDF Lieutenant-General Themba Matanzima announced.

The first group was deployed on South Africa’s border with Zimbabwe last April, he said.

The SANDF was deployed on the country’s borders until 1994, when the government instructed the phased withdrawal of troops. The function of border control was then gradually taken over by the South African Police Service.

However, in February 2010, the Ministry of Defence mandated the SANDF’s return.

Safeguarding the country’s borders had become a national priority, said Matanzima, and warned rhino poachers not to take them on. – Sapa

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