Wounded rhino dies after escape

2012-03-22 00:00

POACHERS who slaughtered and dehorned two white rhinos in the Ezemvelo-controlled Weenen game reserve this month are also believed to be responsible for the death of a third white rhino.

Its carcass was recovered in the reserve late last week.

The horns of the third rhino were not removed, but investigators established that the animal had been shot and wounded in its shoulder and probably died a slow death after managing to escape from the poachers.

The hunt for the poachers is continuing amid gloomy reports that the toll of rhinos poached has risen to 135 already so far this year countrywide. Sapa this week quoted Department of Environmental Affairs spokesperson Albi Modise who revealed that the Kruger National Park had lost 75 rhinos to poachers since the beginning of the year. The second highest number of rhinos slain by poachers is in KZN with 18, Limpopo with 17 and the North West Province with 15.

The report said SA has lost 448 rhinos to illegal hunting and trade in rhino horn last year.

Modise said the department was encouraged by an increasing number of arrests and convictions this year to counter rhino poaching. He added that 89 people were arrested for illegal activities involving rhino horns across the country since January.

Colonel Vishnu Naidoo reported that a game reserve manager, Walter Nkuna (40) who is believed to be linked to rhino poaching, shot and killed himself at Thabazimbi in Limpopo when police began to move in on him this week.

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