Two men posing as tourists booked into a South African lodge, drove off to view the wildlife -- and then shot two endangered white rhino bulls and hacked off their horns, officials said.
The men, who were arrested last week after the rhinos were killed in the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park, have been linked to a national syndicate targeting the endangered animals, South African conservation officials said Tuesday.
“It’s the first time we’ve ever had poachers posing as tourists in one of our game parks,” said Jeff Gaisford, spokesman for KZN Wildlife, the conservation arm of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government.
The men had been under surveillance because of police intelligence but were not followed for a three-hour period to prevent them from becoming suspicious. During that time they are believed to have shot the animals.