News24

Rhino poachers strike in KZN

2010-07-25 22:43

Pietermaritzburg - Rhino poachers have struck again - this time close to the city limits.

An eight-year-old white rhino bull was shot dead with an AK47 rifle at Karkloof Spa at Otto's Bluff on Friday night.

Farm manager at the reserve there, Brendan Gevers, told The Witness that the bull was shot in the head and that its body had been discovered on Saturday morning.

“The rhino was born here on the property. We would see him on a daily basis. We have now lost our breeding bull.”

Gevers said that security at the reserve had already been beefed up.

Police spokesperson Joey Jeevan said the rhino was worth R500 000. Both its horns were removed. “An AK47 cartridge was found at the scene and a bullet head removed from the animal’s carcass.”

Rod Potter, wildlife investigator attached to Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, said KwaZulu-Natal had been less affected by poaching then other provinces this year, “but this may be changing”.

Private land

“We have had 11 cases in the province this year, and half of these were on private land.”

He compared these figures to 28 rhino being poached in 2009 and 14 in 2008. Potter said these figures were way above those of the previous two decades.

“We need to do more to meet the increasing threat we’ve seen over the last two years.”

He urged private landowners to work closely with authorities to protect their rhino populations.

He said the method of killing the rhino with an AK47 bullet to the head was “the normal way” but that poachers had also recently been darting rhino.

The country’s rhino population is being decimated by poachers.

Last week The Witness reported that in the first half of this year at least 124 rhinos were poached in South Africa, up from 122 killed during the whole of 2009, according to SA National Parks.

De-horn

In related news, the de-horning of its rhino population in a bid to deter poaching by a private game reserve in KwaZulu-Natal did not go ahead as scheduled this weekend.

The Witness reported that a travel company recently published an advertisement inviting guests at Nambiti Hills, a lodge in Nambiti private game reserve near Ladysmith, to be part of a “once in a lifetime opportunity” when the reserve de-horned its rhino population on July 23 to 25, and July 30 and August 1.

The “rhino de-horning experience”, including accommodation and meals, was advertised for R3 999 per person sharing.

However, spokesperson for the reserve Louise Hunt said on Sunday that the de-horning had not gone ahead for “logistical reasons”.