On Tuesday 20th of June, The South African National Parks (SANParks) held a media briefing on the issues of Kruger parks’ security and environmental protection.
National parks in South Africa and other parts of the continent have become the target of illegal poaching for many years and it resulted in a high level of wildlife trafficking. The KNP rangers and other security departments had produced numerous successful arrests for these illegal operations.
The SANParks introduced highly trained police dogs (K9s) and more advanced technology to prevent poaching around the parks.
“The past 13 years, poaching has changed the nature conservation-oriented parks, we’ve been hit hard here, we have lost a lot of rhinos. With that we had to introduce dogs, we also started introducing dogs in 2012 and by that time we started with 3 dogs. The number has grown from 3 to 55 dogs within Kruger and 75 dogs within SANParks.” Said Samuel Madalane who works as the K9 manager.
“The first three dogs we started, it was chaotic, it was not nice, we started off with the Belgium Malinois. They could only take four hours on the track. Over time the poachers also changed their style of poaching, they started to come walk through the night and the three dogs we had by that time couldn’t actually make up the time to catch these guys. We started to introduce more breeds of dogs.” Mr Madalane added.
IMPROVED PROTECTION AT KRUGER NATIONAL PARK
Mr Madalane and his team introduced a dog they named Hitler which tracked the lead for poachers for three days, Hitler human-tracked these poachers for more than 179km all by itself.
After the introduction of more dogs, with the statistics over the past five years, the anti-poaching team has made over 200 arrests. The catch rate of dogs increased the high percentage of successful catches. The arrest rates went from 40% to 80% in less than five years. This means every time the dogs are released to look for poachers there is a 90% chance of catching them.
On the same day, the KNP Skukuza magistrates court sentenced one of the rhino poachers to 32 years in prison.
“They found them in possession of six rhino horns. Later on they also found three carcasses that later on matched to the DNA link to the six rhino horns. Two accused got bail, and one did not get bail. The two that got bail absconded, We finalised the accused that was in custody and was sentenced sometime last year. We managed to rearrest one of the two accused who absconded and we sentenced him to 32 years in jail.” Said The state prosecutor Advocate Lot Mgiba.
Siyabonga Freedom Ndlovu is the suspect who ran away from the police after getting bail. He was later arrested in Kabokweni in Nelspruit.
The capture of Siyabonga Ndlovu and two other suspects was initially made with the help of the K9s. One other suspect from the three men is still on the run.