Desperate measures against poachers

2012-11-23 00:00

THE Nambiti private game reserve near Ladysmith made a pre-emptive strike against rhino poachers yesterday.

The big five reserve, just over 20 kilometres outside Ladysmith, dehorned two of its rhinos in an effort to save them from poaching syndicates.

The two rhinos were reportedly the last to be dehorned in the reserve, but managers would not give the total figure, for security reasons.

Chairperson of Nambiti Clarke Smith said dehorning was a bittersweet moment. “Today is bittersweet; we do not want to interfere with the nature of the rhinos by dehorning them, but we have no choice, we have to cut off their horns to keep them alive.”

The operation, led by a team from the reserve and veterinarians, began early in the morning. A helicopter was used to locate the rhinos and dart them from the air, putting them under anaesthetic. A team of employees from the reserve moved in for the dehorning operation, while vet Silke Pfitzer kept watch over the process.

The dehorned animals had their DNA sourced and filed so it could be tested and traced in case their horn is ever stolen.

After the sawing, the rhinos woke up, slightly disorientated and quickly ran off into the bush. One, surrounded by vehicles, a helicopter and people, charged at the people, sending them running for cover behind the chopper.

Smith said the dehorning was a sign that the game industry was getting desperate as rhino poaching escalates.

To date, more than 500 rhinos have been killed across the country in 2012. Nambiti has been lucky so far, having only lost one animal, a few years ago. “We are getting desperate, what else can we do? … We need to do everything that we can to protect these rhinos,” said Smith.

He said their success in protecting their rhinos was largely thanks to the local community, who are also involved in the running and management of the reserve and who keep a watchful eye.

“They inform us immediately if there is anything untoward or if there is someone walking suspiciously near the reserve …” he said.

Pfitzer said dehorning rhinos was like cutting off a fingernail, as they made sure to cut away from any nerve endings.

“Dehorning does not hurt the rhino, it’s not like amputation, the horn will grow back in a few years and the process [to dehorn] will start all over again.”

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.