Poachers kill another rhino

2009-08-08 00:00

A WHITE rhino named Heidie from Thula Thula private game reserve near Richards Bay has had her life snuffed out by poachers who are running rampant in Zululand.

For days a tracker had been assigned to follow her by day in a bid to keep her safe amid a spate of poaching incidents in the area recently. But two nights ago she vanished and her carcass was found yesterday during an intensive search of the bush.

She is one of two more rhinos to be killed by poachers in that area this week, bringing the number of rhino killed this year in KZN to 17.

Another white rhino was found shot dead a few days ago on a neighbouring game ranch, Intaba Ingwe.

Both rhinos had been cruelly de-horned, and there is reason to believe it is the work of the same syndicate that has been targeting the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW) reserves and other private game farms in Zululand this year.

The Witness reported in recent weeks that since January 15 rhino — including one Black rhino — have fallen to poachers in KZN.

Members of the police Organised Crime Units who have been tasked with investigating the spate of rhino poaching in the province rushed to the scenes of the latest slayings yesterday and it was rumoured that aperson had been detained for questioning.

Lawrence Anthony and Francoise Malby-Anthony, who run Thula Thula, were devastated by the death of Heidie who was born on Thula Thula about seven years ago.

Lawrence Anthony told Weekend Witness there are now only two white rhino remaining at Thula Thula. The game reserve lost another white rhino to poachers “ six or seven years ago”.

He said Heidie’s mother was killed in a fight with an elephant a few years back. “It is absolutely shocking what is going on. This has to be the work of a syndicate,” he said.

Heidie is believed to have been shot dead and her horns were crudely removed. Investigators say the modus operandi of the poachers in this case appears to be similar to poaching incidents that occurred in EKZNW’s Mfolozi and Opathe game reserves this year and last year and its most likely the work of the same gang.

Heidie was found about 100 m from Thula Thula game reserve’s boundary fence, and just one and a half kilometres from a district road.

• Four men and a woman of Chinese origin from Ulundi were arrested recently in Opathe game reserve, where at least 11 rhino have been poached. They face charges of illegally entering the game reserve. Investigations into a possible link with the rhino poaching is ongoing.

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