Dispatch live (South Africa)
Two men suspected of poaching were shot dead in clashes with rangers at the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park in KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday morning.
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife said on Wednesday that the alleged poachers confronted rangers at around 7am in the park’s Masinda area.
“Ezemvelo field rangers were on normal foot patrol when they were confronted by three suspects inside the park. During the contact with these three suspects, one was fatally shot and the two managed to run away inside the park,” said spokesman Musa Mntambo.
Other field rangers were then called to the area to search for the two men who had escaped.
“One team managed to track them down and a scuffle ensued when one of the two suspected poachers tried to disarm an Ezemvelo field ranger using a knife. During that scuffle a colleague of the field ranger managed to shoot the suspect when he realised that the life of his colleague was in danger,” said Mntambo.
The other man was able to escape.
Ezemvelo acting CEO Ntsikelelo Dlulane praised the commitment of the rangers.
“The loss of lives is always regrettable but at times our field rangers are left with no choice but to defend themselves when their lives are put in danger. I applaud the skills and commitment of the teams involved in this incident and commend them for protecting our assets,” he said.
Mntambo added that 113 rhinos have been killed in KZN this year so far – a reduction from the 121 killed during the same period last year.