Xmas cheer over for rhino poachers

CHRISTMAS fever has come to an abrupt halt for five suspected poachers following their arrest in Hoedspruit yesterday morning for alleged rhino poaching.

The five suspects were found in possession of two rhino horns and a rhino carcass was found in the Hoedspruit area shortly after their arrest.

Limpopo police spokesman Brigadier Hangwane Mulaudzi said the five were caught in a crackdown operation spearheaded by the Crime Intelligence and Organised Crime (Hawks) Units.

He said two rifles and an axe were found in the possession of the suspects and that the suspects were linked with the poaching of a rhino and her calf that were found killed and dehorned in Hoedspruit last week.

"More than 10 rhinos have been cruelly killed and dehorned in Hoedspruit this year only," he said.

"We have vowed to flush out all rhino poachers in our endeavours to protect and preserve this endangered species.

"The arrested suspects are aged between 25 and 35 and will appear in court today and we will continue with investigations that might link the suspects with a number of rhino poaching cases reported in the are."'

Limpopo provincial police commissioner Lieutenant General Simon Mpembe has praised the police for the sterling job they have done in stopping rhino poachers from in their tracks.

He said the fight against rhino poaching would be intensified in Limpopo and further warned rhino poachers that their days of robbing the province of this precious species were numbered.

According to Juwie Makgopa, a famous Tzaneen hunter, rhino horn has been in demand all over the world for more than 1000 years among various peoples, including Africans, Europeans, Arabs and Indians.

Makgopa said though all rhino species face the threat of extinction in the wild, many people throughout the world still covet their horns as powerful medicines and aphrodisiacs.