Four South African National Parks (SANParks) officials have been arrested in connection with rhino poaching, SANParks said on Wednesday.
The four officials were arrested on Tuesday afternoon after two rhino were found killed in the Kruger National Park (KNP) earlier that morning, SANParks spokesperson Wanda Mkutshulwa said in a statement.
“The animals had been shot and their horns removed. Further investigations into the killing of the two rhino and possibly other rhino poaching incidents in the area are currently being conducted,” she said.
All four officials were stationed in the Pretoriuskop section of the park where 11 rhino have been killed since the beginning of the year.
One of the officials was a field ranger involved in the on-going strike at the park.
Another was a traffic officer connected to the protection services unit — the second traffic officer arrested in connection with rhino poaching.
The killings continue
Tuesday’s discovery brought the total number of rhino killed in the park since January 1 to 43, and nationwide to 80.
Fifty people had been arrested in connection with poaching since the start of the year, said Mkutshulwa.
“I am personally saddened to discover that some of our own would so callously abuse the confidence and faith that we have entrusted upon them,” said SANParks chief executive David Mabunda.
KNP spokesperson Gabrielle Venter said in a statement on Friday that a joint meeting between park officials and union representatives would take place on Wednesday in an attempt to resolve the strike.
This was, “to consider the extent of salary disparities, where identified, and recommend measures to be implemented to ensure salary parity”, she said. — Sapa