A game ranger was killed in a shootout Thursday with rhino poachers he had been trailing, South African National Parks officials said.
The 34-year-old ranger was a member of a unit that had been tracking a gang of poachers with dogs in the Kruger National Park, according to multiple reports. When the rangers confronted the gang, the poachers opened fire.
In the exchange of gunfire, the ranger was shot in the upper body while still in his vehicle.
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First aid was administered and a doctor flown in, but although he was stabilized at the the scene, the ranger died en route to a hospital, Kruger National Park spokesperson Ike Phaahla told News24.
The poachers got away, but they apparently were unable to kill any animals as there were no carcasses in the vicinity, the South African reported.
The ranger’s identity was withheld pending notification of kin.
“We have lost a patriot who died on duty protecting South African assets and who was well trained to defend himself, hence our shock on learning of this incident,” parks CEO Fundisile Mketeni said. “We will draw strength from his contribution to the anti-poaching campaign and as his colleagues, we are going to continue where he left off in honor of his memory.”