Tala Private Game Reserve dehorns its rhinos to deter poachers

2016-06-22 09:45
Wildlife vet Ryan van Deventer dehorns a rhino named Notch at Tala Private Game Reserve on Tuesday morning with the help of Siyabonga Ndlela.

Wildlife vet Ryan van Deventer dehorns a rhino named Notch at Tala Private Game Reserve on Tuesday morning with the help of Siyabonga Ndlela. (Chelsea Pieterse, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - With the dehorning of rhinos allegedly reducing poaching incidents, Tala Private Game Reserve took the leap and dehorned four of their rhinos on Tuesday.

After the deaths of two of Tala’s rhinos in 2014, the reserve started taking steps to protect their precious rhino, at first by hiring an anti-poaching unit, Rave Rhino and Wildlife Projects, and yesterday, dehorning four of its rhino.

Tala manager Divan Vermaak said yesterday that the dehorning of the rhino had appeared to reduce poaching incidents at other reserves around the province and country.

“The reserve will do anything it can to protect our rhino,” said Vermaak.

Vermaak said Tala placed special emphasis on protecting their rhino who each have personalities that the staff had come to know and love.

“They are wonderful creatures and if dehorning will deter poachers, then we will do what will keep the rhino alive and happy,” he said.

With a vet in a helicopter overhead searching out and darting the rhino, Van Deventer and his team worked quickly, making sure any stress the rhino might experience was reduced by blindfolding them and placing plugs in their ears to block out noise.

Van Deventer said dehorning a rhino was like clipping your fingernails and did not hurt the rhino at all.

Vermaak said a rhino’s horn grows between two to 10 cm a year once the rhino had been dehorned.

“During the dehorning, we draw blood for DNA profiling and to see if they are pregnant,” he said.

“We also microchip the rhino and once the horn has been removed it is microchipped and moved to a safe place.”

Van Deventer said although dehorning rhino was not ideal, we were in an age where all “threats and temptations had to be eliminated”.

A fifth rhino was to have her horn filed down yesterday as part of the dehorning procedures, however, she had walked into thick bush and her procedure was postponed.

After the dehorning procedure was completed, the rhino were injected with a solution that reversed the effects of the dart almost immediately.

The rhinos were dehorned separately and after the procedures, stood up and trotted off into the bush.

• chelsea.pieterse@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  rhino

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