Kruger Park gets anti-poaching plane

The surveillance plane was donated by the Ichikowitz Family Foundation.

The Kruger National Park was given a new helicopter to help fight the scourge of rhino poaching. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Rangers at the Kruger National Park on Tuesday said they were confident that the latest technology that will be introduced at the park will help fend-off rhino poachers.

A seeker surveillance plane was donated by the Ichikowitz Family Foundation to help fund the fight against poaching.

Nearly 400 rhino were poached in Kruger National Park during 2012.

Some 62 people were arrested over the same period.

In total, 588 rhino have been killed in South Africa this year alone.

There has also been a spike in rhino poaching cases in the past few weeks, especially in the North West province.

At the Finfoot Lake Reserve, seven dehorned rhino carcasses were discovered by rangers over one weekend.

Another animal died from a bullet wound a few days later, bringing the total number to eight.

Last month, officials at the Hartzhoogte Game Reserve discovered 11 rhino carcasses believed to have been targeted by poachers over a six week period.

Since November, at least five calves have been orphaned as a result of poaching in the province.

South African National Parks (SANParks) CEO David Mabunda said the rangers chase off suspected poachers on a daily basis and the plane will assist with visible areal policing.

"The plane is but just one small element to a higher solution we require to defeat rhino poaching."

The Ichikowitz Family Foundation said it will continue to support anti-poaching initiatives by donating more technology to curb the scourge.

Arms dealer and oil broker Ivor Ichikowitz founded the foundation.

In 2011, he made headlines after a Boeing 727, owned by Ichikowitz, was leased to President Jacob Zuma through a charter company as part of a government tender.

At the time, Zuma's plane was in for a three-month long service.

The plane costs an estimated $14,000 an hour to lease.

In October, Eyewitness News revealed that Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe was flown to Italy on an official visit on board a Boeing 727, also linked to Ichikowitz.