KZN rangers weep over dead rhinos

2012-09-28 00:00

EZEMVELO KZN Wildlife staff have been “openly weeping” over the sudden spike and brutality in rhino poaching in the last seven days.

By Monday this week nine rhinos had been poached, including one cow with a fully formed foetus in her uterus and another with a one-month-old calf.

And on Wednesday evening another rhino was found dead near

iMf­olozi-Hluhluwe Game Reserve and one suspect was arrested.

This brings the total to 10 rhinos found dead since last Friday and pushes the 2012 provincial total to 47. Countrywide nearly 400 have been poached this year.

According EKZNW spokesperson Musa Mntambo, in the most recent incident three alleged poachers entered the park, killing one rhino and removing its horn.

“A patrol spotted three suspects leaving the park and gave chase. There was a brief exchange of fire and the suspect was arrested,” said Mntambo.

According to a statement released by Ezemvelo, the massive death toll of rhinos over the last seven days has resulted in staff “openly weeping” and wanting to take up “vigilante reprisals”.

Ezemvelo’s general manager of eastern section Cedric Coetzee, with 30 years’ conservation experience in KZN said he was “mortified”.

“This massacre [of the mother and unborn calf] will forever be imprinted on our conservation DNA.

“It’s probably the worst and most heart-wrenching poaching incident I have witnessed, and I’ve attended all the poaching incidents inside our parks.”

Coetzee said the brutality and callousness of the poachers was difficult to fathom.

He also came across a month-old baby standing next to its shot mother.

“It’s desperately tragic and upsetting. I’m so pleased we were able to tranquillise this baby and take it to our game capture bomas.

“She is doing well. At least there was one positive out of this ghoulish scenario,” said Coetzee.

According to the SAPS, they believe there is more than one poaching syndicate operating within the province.

Police said they couldn’t rule out cross-border raids.

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