Rhino shot at Karkloof

2010-07-26 00:00

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.

The farm manager at the reserve there, Brendan Gevers, told The Witness the bull was shot in the head and that its body was 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,” he added.

Gevers said security at the reserve has been beefed up.

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer 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.”

She said police are appealing for information and that anyone who could throw any light on the shooting should call Warrant Officer Riaan van Rooyen of the wildlife crime investigation unit, which is attached to the Hawks, at 082 376 2499.

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

“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. These figures are 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.”

Potter 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 is “the normal way”, but that poachers have ­also recently been darting rhino.

The country’s rhino population is being decimated. 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.

In related news, the de-horning of its rhino population in a bid to deter poaching by a private game reserve in KZN 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 a private game reserve near Ladysmith, to be part of a “once in a lifetime opportunity” at a cost of R3 999 per person sharing for meals and accommodation, when the reserve de-horns its rhino population on July 23 to 25, and again on July 30 and August 1.

But a spokesperson for the reserve, Louise Hunt, said yesterday that the de-horning had not gone ahead for “logistical reasons”.

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