Kruger National Park winning the fight against rhino poaching, trio convicted



Published Jun 8, 2024


The world-renowned Kruger National Park seems to be winning the fight against rhino poaching after three more poachers were found guilty by the Skukuza Regional Court this week.

The trio - Dominic Mnisi, Lwazi Malambe and Ayanda Ngomane - were remanded in custody until June 21 for sentencing.

Speaking to The Saturday Star on Friday, South African National Parks (SANParks) spokesperson JP Louw said two of the convicted men, Mnisi and Malambe, were arrested in January 2017 at Stolsnek after they were found in possession of a rifle, ammunition and four fresh rhino horns.

He added that the horns were later linked to two recently killed white rhino found near where they were apprehended. Thereafter, they were granted bail.

In a related case, in October 2019, field rangers at Malelane Section followed up on gunshots and found the remains of a rhino with its horns removed. During a follow-up operation with assistance of a tracker dog, the team apprehended Mnisi (who was out on bail after having been arrested in 2017 at Stolsnek Section) and Ngomane. Both were found in possession of a rifle, ammunition, a knife and two rhino horns, said Louw.

Both cases were transferred to the Skukuza Regional Court for a combined trial, which began in July 2023 and ended with their conviction on May 23, 2024.

The three have been found guilty of trespassing, hunting rhino, possession of an unlicensed firearm, conspiracy to commit a crime, possession of a firearm with the intention to commit a crime, possession of unlicensed ammunition and cruelty to animals, among others.

“We are happy as the Kruger National Park with the conviction of the three poachers who killed these iconic animals and we hope that the sentence will be a long one, deserving of the crime that was committed. We hope that the other poachers will take note that the arm of the law is long and patient and delivers justice at the end of the day,” Louw said.

The win against rhino poaching could be attributed to court convictions and the efforts to combat the scourge.

“When you look at the latest numbers of convictions, we have success stories and our courts have now come out strongly against poachers,” Louw said.

In March, Limpopo police arrested five people suspected of being involved in rhino poaching and the illegal trade of elephant tusks.

Independent Media previously reported that poaching in the Kruger National Park had seen a massive decrease in recent years attributed to the introduction of free-running hounds and other security features.

The dogs were introduced almost eight years ago to arguably South Africa’s number one visited national park to curb mostly the poaching of rhinos for their horns.

Saturday Star