Pregnant rhino killed in 2nd attack

2012-02-14 14:16
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Limpopo rhino poaching

A heavily pregnant rhino cow and a two-year-old calf were killed by poachers on a game farm near Tzaneen in Limpopo. WARNING: The following images are of a graphic nature.

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Cape Town - A 4-year-old rhino bull has been left traumatised after its mother and sister were killed by poachers in Limpopo earlier this month.

The cow, which was due to give birth this week, survived a shooting attack two years ago, Ian Otto, the manager of Thiergarten farm near Tzaneen in Limpopo, told News24 on Tuesday.

A case has been opened at Letsitele police station, after the shooting on February 9.

Otto said: “We noticed that the animals had not been dead for more than an hour so we took off after them [the poachers]. With help from two helicopters and a group of local farmers, they [the poachers] still managed to slip away.

“When we got back to the crime scene, we found that they first shot the 2-year-old calf and when she went down, the mother stood over her, [the poachers shot] the mother as well,” Otto said.

Traumatised

This same rhino cow’s mother was shot dead by poachers in 2010. The 4-year-old bull is the only surviving member of the entire family.

Otto said that the rhino bull, which has not been wounded, had been so traumatised by the loss of his mother and sister that his behaviour is completely abnormal.

“We’ve got a big ranch and he just walks from boundary to boundary. You hear him squealing and grunting.

“He approaches the other rhino and puts his face into them, turns around and walks away and just constantly calls [to them].

“You can see from his behaviour that he’s not himself, that it’s just not normal what he’s doing.”

The traumatised behaviour of the bull mirrored that of another calf whose mother had been shot in December. The calf had apparently lain down next to its mother’s carcass “for a couple of days before lions chased it away”.

Some good news


Otto said that calf eventually found another rhino with which it bonded. If they don’t, “they stress themselves to death”.

He said based on the information he had received about the last shootings, the poachers were professional hunters.

Otto said he was pleased with the reward system offered by Limpopo police for information on poachers, saying that this might encourage people to help stop poaching as opposed to helping poachers.

In 2011, 448 rhino were poached. Fifty-four rhino have already been poached in 2012 in South Africa - just 45 days into the year.

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