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The Skukuza Regional Court recently sentenced poacher Million Masilane to 16 years in prison for crimes committed in Kruger National Park. Masilane was convicted of trespassing, conspiracy, killing two rhinos, attempted murder, and weapons possession.
According to prosecutors, rangers spotted Masilane, Andries Baloi, and Bethuel Baloyi in the park last March. When ordered to stop, one man aimed at the rangers, who returned fire, killing Baloi. Masilane and Baloyi were caught with two fresh rhino horns, a gun, and ammunition.
Masilane pleaded not guilty, but rangers testified against him. Ballistics showed his guns were hunting rifles, while DNA proved the horns came from recently killed rhinos. His accomplice Baloyi fled after being granted bail.
The hefty sentence shows the court’s zero tolerance for poaching in Kruger, where rhinos are ruthlessly slaughtered for their horns. Rangers put their lives on the line against armed poachers like Masilane. Though one poacher was killed, rangers avoided further loss of life by apprehending the others.