Two others were arrested and their vehicle impounded, while a third suspect escaped the net in a Toyota Corolla.
Rangers, acting on a tip off, waylaid the suspected poachers – Sakhile Ncube, Nicholas Tswami and Million Chauke, all from Beitbridge – and killed them in the pre-dawn ambush after exchanging gunfire.
The National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority has since recovered a 306 rifle fitted with a silencer, 18 live rounds of ammunition, two knives, two cellphones and two bags used by the poachers.
Parks public relations manager Ms Caroline Washaya-Moyo yesterday said the poachers had been under surveillance after being sold out by a once-duped colleague.
“Information was received by officers based at Buffalo Range Airport, working with a reliable informer that an organised armed poaching group wanted to enter Chipangayi Safari area for the purposes of poaching rhinos,” said Ms Washaya-Moyo.