/ 27 May 2013

SANParks ranger injured in poacher shoot-out

Andrew Desmet.
Andrew Desmet.

A ranger shot and wounded during an operation to apprehend suspected poachers in the Kruger National Park was in a stable condition in hospital.

"He is in a stable condition, but he is still in the ICU [Intensive Care Unit]," South African National Parks (SANParks) spokesperson William Mabasa said on Monday.

Ranger Andrew Desmet was shot in the stomach during a joint operation between SANParks and the South African National Defence Force on Friday night.

He was airlifted to a medical facility in Nelspruit (Mbombela) where he underwent an operation.

On Saturday, another spokesperson Reynold Thakhuli, said after this incident another group of rangers made contact with a second group of armed poachers and a shoot-out ensued.

Thakhuli said the poachers managed to escape into the bush and no arrests were made. A .458 heavy calibre rifle and other poaching equipment were recovered at the scene.

SANParks chief executive David Mabunda extended his well-wishes to Desmet on behalf of all park staff.

"Andrew is a long-serving member of our ranger corps. We have always said it is a war out there, and we wish once again to thank Andrew and all our rangers who are in the front-line of the battle."

He thanked all those who played a role in getting Desmet to safety and wished him a speedy recovery. – Sapa