Rhino: Female butchered in Ubizane

2012-04-04 00:00

A WEEK-OLD butchered rhino carcass has been found in Ubizane Game Reserve. It is suspected that the adult female was poached on March 23, but the corpse was only discovered last Thursday.

“She was shot in the head with what looks to be a .375 calibre rifle,” said Tiaan Pienaar, general manager of Ubizane Game Reserve. “Both horns were removed with what looks to be an axe.”

The reserve’s blog shows the shooting took place almost exactly a year after the rhino’s mate was poached in the same reserve. The rhinos are survived by their calf, and DNA samples have been taken from the poached rhino so that investigators can attempt to track down the people who killed her.

Jubulani Ngubane, rhino security co-ordinator at Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, speculates that fewer than one percent of rhinos survive the ordeal of having their horns removed.

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife investigator Rod Potter gave the estimate of 50%, but said survival was determined by a variety of factors.

“It depends on where the animal is hit, and the caliber of the gun,” Potter said.

Ngubane said 17 rhino had been poached in KZN so far this year.

The organisation is attempting to combat the escalating poaching problem by using high-tech equipment. “It involves cyber-trackers, night vision and helicopters,” said Ngubane. Although these strategies target poachers, Ngubane said Ezemvelo also tried to find the criminals who controlled operations or smuggled the horns.

Ngubane said he believed legal rhino hunting was not a problem, but that authorities should tighten up the monitoring of permits. With the population of rhino diminishing globally, however, this becomes a debatable issue.

“[Hunting is] unacceptable with current numbers,” Pienaar said.

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