South African National Parks (SANParks) on Monday welcomed the sentencing of a rhino poacher to 33 years in prison for rhino poaching and related offences.
Patrick Nkuna was sentenced in the Skukuza Regional Court on Friday.
He was arrested in 2015 in the Kruger National Park (KNP) Pretoriuskop section during an extended ground and air follow-up anti-poaching operation.
Shortly before the arrest of Nkuna and his accomplices, he attempted to shoot at a SANParks helicopter involved in the follow-up operation.
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In a statement, the managing executive of the KNP, Glenn Phillips, commended the courts for sending a clear message and imposing such a stiff jail term.
"This is a huge victory and deterrence factor in the ongoing anti-poaching campaign. We warmly welcome this ruling as it will provide the much needed boost to the anti-poaching teams who endure harsh conditions for the protection of our parks," Phillips said.
Nkuna had been charged with 12 counts, including four counts of attempted murder, trespassing in a national park and possession of an illegal firearm.
"Our wish is to see a significant increase in such convictions and for the law enforcement authorities in affected countries to cooperate and work with us to end this scourge," Phillips added.
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