Three poachers suspected of killing several rhinos in South Africa’s Kruger National Park have been arrested after being tracked down by sniffer dogs, park officials said on Wednesday.
Rangers flying over the park area spotted a carcass and an injured rhino on Friday morning after being alerted by a tourist who reported hearing gunshots, South African National Parks said in a statement.
Two more dead rhinos were soon found in the area, prompting the use of another helicopter, rangers and dogs.
“The hounds indicated a specific area where three suspects were found and arrested,” the statement said.
The park, which borders Mozambique, is a tourist magnet.
The suspects, described as Mozambican nationals illegally in the country, carried a high-calibre hunting rifle, ammunition and three rhino horns.
The rhino population in the Kruger has declined dramatically due to poaching. The park’s estimated 2021 population was 3,529 white rhinos and 268 black rhinos, more than half down from 2013, according to nonprofit organization Save the Rhino International.
South Africa is home to nearly 80 percent of the world’s rhinos.
But it’s also a hotspot for rhino poaching, fueled by demand from Asia, where the horn is used in traditional medicine for its reputed therapeutic properties.
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