Suspected Rhino Poacher in Kruger National Park Killed by an Elephant and Lions; Accomplices from South Africa in Custody

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Authorities have not released the identity of a suspected poacher, who was reported to have been killed while hunting rhinos in the Kruger National Park game reserve in northeast South Africa.

The man killed was part of a group of illegal poachers in Kruger National Park (KNP).

The South African Police Service received information that some men had gone poaching in the KNP on April 1, 2019, when suddenly an elephant attacked and killed one of them. His accomplices claimed to have carried his body to the road so that passers-by could find it in the morning. The accomplices then fled and vanished from KNP, according to police.

Police Catch Poacher Accomplices that Fled Kruger

Once outside KNP, the accomplices reportedly informed a relative of the dead man about the incident and police were alerted. A search operation was launched by police and Rangers in the mentioned area, and a human skull and pieces of clothing were found.

Next, police launched a joint intelligence-driven operation in search of the dead poacher’s accomplices, resulting in the arrest of three men aged between 26 and 35, within KaMhlushwa and Komatipoort precincts. During the operation, two .375 hunting rifles and ammunition were seized.

The suspects appeared Friday, April 5 2019, at the Komatipoort Magistrate’s Court facing charges of possession of firearms and ammunition without a license, conspiracy to poach, and trespassing.

Upon their appearance, the court remanded them in custody and will reappear at the same court on April 12, 2019, pending a formal bail application.

An inquest was opened in connection with the dead suspect, according the South African Police Service.

Apparently the poachers alarmed an elephant who charged at the victim near Crocodile Bridge, deep in the KNP reserve. While the man was down, lions arrived, then mauled and devoured the man’s body, leaving ”very little remains” according to a report.

“Entering the Kruger illegally and on foot is not wise as it holds very many dangers and this incident is clear evidence of that.”

— Glenn Phillips, Managing Executive of KNP

Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa. All Big Five game animals — the lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo — are present in KNP. The black rhinoceros is critically endangered, and hunting is extremely limited, if not impossible, because of the endangered classification.

Kruger National Park (KNP) paid tribute to the victim, who has young daughters.



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