Several wildlife species, two hunting rifles, bush knives, a large quantity of ammunition and a vehicle were confiscated in Mauchsberg plantation, in the small Mpumalanga town of Pilgrim’s Rest on Monday.
According to police information, seven suspects, aged between 17 and 42, were arrested after they invaded the plantation and they were spotted through technological devices.
“The security personnel responded to the location in the mountainous plantation in Mauchsberg where different wildlife species were slaughtered and loaded in the light delivery vehicle,” Mpumalanga police spokesperson, Brigadier Selvy Mohlala said.
Police at Sabie were summoned to the scene, and the case was later handed over to the Pilgrim’s Rest police.
“Officials from Nature Conversation were also roped in. The total value of the slaughtered wildlife will be availed as soon as conservation officials are done with their assessment,” said Mohlala.
Two licensed hunting rifles with close to 500 live ammunition, seven mobile phones, six torches and bush knives were confiscated.
The vehicle which was used to transport the carcasses was also confiscated. The vehicle was not reported stolen, as the owner was part of the arrested suspects.
“Preliminary investigation revealed that the wildlife was due to be supplied to illegal miners in and around Pilgrim’s Rest. Investigation continues and the suspects are expected to appear in court soon,” said Mohlala.
Meanwhile, provincial commissioner of police in Mpumalanga, Lieutenant General Semakaleng Daphney Manamela commended the team work which led to the arrest of the alleged poachers.
Last year, the Skukuza Regional Court sentenced convicted poacher, 47-year-old Sam Khoza to a “well-deserved” nine years imprisonment after he was arrested in the Kruger National Park.
“The accused was sentenced following an incident in which three armed intruders entered the Kruger National Park through a section on November 11, 2020. However, they were spotted by the field rangers who were on duty that day. It is said that when the three men noticed the field rangers, a shooting ensued,” Mohlala said last year.
Two of the suspected poachers evaded arrests, but Khoza, who sustained some injuries during the shooting, was captured.
“The police at Skukuza were notified about the incident and upon their arrival, the accused was arrested and charged accordingly. During his arrest, he was found in possession of a rifle, some ammunition as well as a silencer,” Mohlala said.