Poachers kill 14th rhino in KZN this year

2010-08-20 00:00

ANOTHER white rhino has fallen victim to the poaching epidemic sweeping the province and the country. It is the 14th rhino to be killed by poachers this year in KwaZulu Natal.

The adult male white rhino was shot dead by poachers in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park on Tuesday night.

It is the third rhino to be killed by poachers in Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife reserves this month alone.

On August 4 rangers found the carcass of a black rhino cow — minus its horn — at Slevane in the south- western section of iMfolozi.

Another white rhino was killed by poachers in the Schoonstroom section of the Ophathe Game Reserve near Ulundi on August 9, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife spokesperson Jeff Gaisford confirmed yesterday.

A significant feature of the latest crime scene is the precision with which the iMfolozi rhino’s horns were cleanly sliced off, indicating that the poachers are experienced in horn removal and have access to extremely sharp instruments.

Investigators believe the ongoing poaching scourge is the work of more than one syndicate employing different methods and levels of sophistication to hunt, kill and dehorn their prey. But their motivation is the same — greed for money.

”This incident took place in the Gwalagwaleni area of the Masinda Section near the western boundary of iMfolozi just off the R618, which runs through the park and is known as the Corridor Road,” said Gaisford.

He said the dead rhino, with both horns cleanly removed,  was found by a group of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife field rangers on Wednesday morning, who immediately radioed a report to iMfolozi management.

”Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife specialist staff with members of the SAPF organised crime unit from Richards Bay immediately went to the scene and began an investigation. During a postmortem examination conducted by the EKZNW vet it was confirmed that the rhino had been shot once in the head,” said Gaisford.

The calibre of rifle used to shoot the animal is still under investigation. Gaisford confirmed the rhino is the 14th slain by poachers in KZN this year, adding that the figure includes the death due to starvation of a white rhino calf whose mother was darted and while drugged was savagely dehorned with a chainsaw on a private property in the KZN midlands in June.

Gaisford said EKZNW stressed that while the loss of these rhino is cause for “grave concern” and is totally unacceptable, there is presently no serious threat to the future of the species.

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