Poachers feed then kill tame rhinos

2010-08-25 10:13

Johannesburg – Two white rhinos, which were so tame that children could ride on them, were fed lucerne before being shot 17 times using assault rifles.

Police in Limpopo are looking for a gang of between five and eight poachers, who shot and killed the two rhinos and sawed off their horns on Monday afternoon, on a farm between Vaalwater and Mookgophong (Naboomspruit).

Herman Lubbe of the Modimolle (Nylstroom) police's cattle theft unit said on Tuesday the attackers overpowered and tied up two workers on the farm Elandsfontein.

They then scattered lucerne in the camp where the rhinos are kept.

R5 assault rifles used

According to police spokesperson Ronel Otto, the poachers presumably used R5 assault rifles to shoot them.

"The police picked up 17 shells in the area where the animals were shot," said Otto.

Farmers on a neighbouring farm said the animals were "executed" while they were peacefully eating lucerne.

The owner of the rhinos, who reportedly only spends time on the farm over weekends and holidays, is apparently severely traumatised. The rhinos were so tame that children could ride them.

Dr Sam Ferreira, mammal expert at SANParks and one of the co-ordinators of the action group against rhino poaching which was launched on Monday, said this kind of poaching has a severely negative impact on civil society in South Africa.

"It appears to be ordinary poaching, but in the context of broader society it can be linked to arms smuggling, prostitution and other crimes."