Three rhino killed in Weenen

2013-09-30 00:00

POACHERS killed three rhino at the Weenen Game Reserve in northern KZN last week.

Rangers at the KZN Ezemvelo-owned reserve discovered the first dead rhino on Friday, and two more on Saturday.

Ezemvelo spokesperson Musa Mntambo said the animals were shot dead and had their horns removed, but they are still in the dark as to how and where the poachers might have gained entry into the reserve.

“The animals were killed some time during last week. We can’t tell their age until the veterinarian completes the autopsies,” said Mntambo.

The recent incident brings the number of rhino poached in the province in privately owned and Ezemvelo reserves to 68, according to Mntambo.

Asked about the recent project to dye and poison rhino horns, Mntambo said: “This is a pilot project undertaken at the Tembe Elephant Park and Ndumo Game Reserve in the north coast along the Mozambique and South African border. The poison lasts for five to seven years in the rhino horn. At this stage, we are only monitoring and analysing the movement at our establishments, particularly the rate of poaching.”

He said depending on the effectiveness of the poisoning of horns in curbing poaching, they will be able to make a decision on whether to expand the project.

In her speech on Rhino Day last Saturday, Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said the country had about 18 000 white and 4 000 black rhino, of which 25% were on privately owned reserves.

She said a National Rhino Fund was set up with the aim of consolidating all funding requirements and ensuring that funding is distributed successfully to state and privately owned rhino anti-poaching initiatives, including conservation, safety and security, skills development and research.

Another step taken towards finding a solution to the poaching scourge was the authorisation granted to the Department of Environmental Affairs in July by the cabinet to prepare and submit a rhino trade proposal for consideration at the 17th Conference of Parties of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (Cites) in 2016.

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