Poaching epidemic may lead to 'first hornless rhino herd'

2016-09-20 08:34
Ikanyega the rhino (Supplied to News24)

Ikanyega the rhino (Supplied to News24)

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Johannesburg – Dr Gerhard Steenkamp from Saving the Survivors (STS), a group which cares for injured rhino attacked by poachers, has a special idea that he hopes will pay off.

Central to that idea is a rhino, called Ikanyega ('trust' in Setswana) who was discovered in July last year by the anti-poaching unit in the Pilanesberg National Park, Liryn de Jager from STS said in a statement.

'Ike', as he is affectionately known, was found with both his horns hacked off.

His horn bed had been severely damaged and he had also been slashed with a panga across his back, said De Jager.

The team from STS assessed the bull’s injuries and decided on a treatment plan.

Over the past 14 months, Ikanyega’s wound has been cleaned and covered on two separate occasions, said De Jager.

Ikanyega the rhino
Ikanyega the rhino is transferred to the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre. (Supplied to News24)

Sanctuary

"The wounds healed, but a piece of horn present after the attack had subsequently grown quite large. It was then decided to surgically remove the horn producing layer, as well as the stub. This was to prevent another attack by poachers," she said.

Steenkamp assisted by Dr Gerhardus Scheepers, performed the procedure that lasted just over an hour.

A protective shield was placed over the affected area and removed in time for Ike's release.

On Monday, Ike, along with other adult surviving cows, was released to the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC), which is a 15-hectare camp.

"Ike was placed in STS’ custody as he would not be able to survive the onslaught of other bull rhino in the wild. It was therefore decided to move him to the established rhino sanctuary at HESC (Rescued Rhinos @ HESC), where he will be kept with three cows, also survivors from poaching attempts with horns in various stages of repair.

"The idea is for these survivors to start breeding and form the first hornless rhino herd (inadvertently) created by poachers."

Read more on:    polokwane  |  good news  |  conservation  |  rhino poaching  |  poaching

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