Rhino calf saved by getting stuck in tree

2011-09-14 22:57

Johannesburg - A 3-week old white rhino calf was trapped for at least eight hours in the fork of a young thorn tree after its mother, named Alpha, was shot by poachers on a game farm in Assen, near Pretoria.

The calf blindly ran away from the poachers after one of them slashed it over its head with a panga.

The calf ran helter-skelter into a bush a few metres away from where the poachers had shot the cow in her heart and head, and ended up with his head trapped in the V-shaped fork of a young tree.

In its desperate attempts to escape the calf had pawed deep grooves in the ground around the tree and had rubbed its neck raw against the trunks - causing his head to swell up.

A rhino cannot move backwards.

The owner, Neels van Rensburg, said when he arrived at the carcass of the cow, the pitiful bleats of the calf was all one could hear.

Alpha was one of the first rhinos that Van Rensburg bought. He said the poachers would have killed the calf as well, if the tree did not trap its head.

Poachers usually shoot the calves because they keep trying to nuzzle the dead cow while the poachers cut off the rhino horn.

"I heard the little one cry, I saw it was trapped and was hurting, but I could not do anything until the vet arrived,” Van Rensburg said.

Doctor Louis Greef, a veterinarian from Thabazimbi, two helpers and a game ranger calmed the calf by plugging its ears and putting a blindfold over its eyes.

It took half an hour to lift its head free from the fork.

After it was freed, the calf was put on a drip and loaded onto a trailer.

Greef, who specialises in game in the Limpopo province, said he has since May received a call about a rhino that had been shot every four days. About a month ago another white rhino cow and her calf was also killed on Van Rensburg’s farm.

"Few people get so angry at the poachers like we do who work on the scene. It does not help that the poachers get caught, because they walk free.

"They must be shot and killed.People out there do not know what is happening. It is chaos and it will not end," said Greef.

Van Rensburg suspects the poachers are part of a group of six who were caught earlier on his farm. Two of the men were linked to rhino poaching in Limpopo, but four were released.
Greef and Van Rensburg agree that the police should dedicate a team to investigate all cases of rhino poaching.

Greef said there is no co-ordination between case.

"These rhinos are like children to me. Other people smoke, use drugs or fish. I have rhinos," said Van Rensburg.

"Only last night [Monday evening] this cow and her calf came to eat lucerne at my house while I sat on the stoep.

"Unfortunately I may not cut off the nose of the donder [poacher] or kill him."

  • frankm - 2011-09-14 23:09

    This is now getting beyond a joke. An example needs to be made when these guys are caught. They are getting away with it far too often. I hope the swines die a horrible death

      KaB - 2011-09-15 07:42

      This is a has been a joke for over 2 years now! Approximately 500 rhinos have been butchered in two years, I would bet my annual salary that the number is higher than that! Game rangers and owners should just kill the monsters who do this without saying a word, feed the bodies to the predators and be done with it...that way, we're killing two birds with one stone :)

      Brewster - 2011-09-15 07:45

      Poachers should be shot. Survivors should be shot again

      Jet master - 2011-09-15 12:26

      While china and its people keep buying rhino horns and murdering dolphins and whales I feel nothing for them. I hope Mother nature throws another devastating disaster at them. They deserve it. I just hope mother nature does a good job of it.

      OZNOB - 2011-09-15 22:14

      @ brewster i concur with you and the remains should be fed to the lions .

      czovczov - 2011-09-16 11:27

      Seriously this Rhino poaching is getting way out of hand. The Chinese should be held responsible and accountable for this mess since they are the only ones in the world buying the rhino horns.

      Ryan - 2011-09-18 15:13

      @Jet master: Whilst i deplore Rhinos being poached and dolphins+whales being murdered, you would do well to learn the difference between China and Japan. It's the Japanese that are notorious for whale+doplhin killings, not the Chinese. And also, u can't really blame everyone in China for some of their fellow citizens supporting the Rhino horn trade. That would be like our overseas counterparts damning all South Africans for the rape and murder of innocents here.

  • Succubus - 2011-09-14 23:26

    If I ever get my hands on one of these f**king poacher pieces of s**t!!! ...they will spend 'days' begging me to kill them.

      MeltdowN - 2011-09-15 07:11

      We should cut their digits off first!!

      Brewster - 2011-09-15 07:43

      MeltdowN, Squash them in a work bench and do not release. Place a knive just out of reach

      Tinkie - 2011-09-15 15:48

      And then set the shed on fire and make sure the knife is blunt!!!

      whereu - 2011-09-17 13:05

      MeltdowN, I would like to cut off other bits as well to stop them reproducing this scum.

  • Yislaaik - 2011-09-14 23:44

    There you are now! You have my blessing for all the hate speech you can muster. There can hardly be many people who hate these poachers more than I do.

  • Woofix - 2011-09-15 00:31

    I sometimes wonder if The Creator wasnt in regret that He also made these two legged (no not animals-- i dont want to insult an animal) but lets called it, "alien humanlike demon possed creatures" that actually doesnt deserve a place on this planet.

      Tinkie - 2011-09-15 16:02

      Looking at the photos of the little guy, he is just so small. Imagine how scared he is. I could just sit and cry when I think that the most dangerous creatures on this planet are humans (if you can call some of them that). By the way, to all the poachers out there, I have heard that the Asian male genitalia is worth a FORTUNE in many countries. Any takers?

  • amanda dykstra - 2011-09-15 02:27

    Poachers should be shot on site,they will erradicate animals that are more valuable to promote tourism than as false muti. By encouraging trophy hunting South Africa sends the wrong message to justify killing wildlife.

      Rina - 2011-09-18 06:28

      I agree amanda. I say cut up the bloody poachers, leave them far away from any civilization and leave them to be hunted and ripped to pieces. Trophy hunting is in all means just wrong, understandable when a certian species over populate an area and no other plans can be made then yes. It is just utterly wrong and disgusting when people hunt for throphies

  • Rezo - 2011-09-15 03:04

    do not kill animals. they need help.

  • Mike77 - 2011-09-15 04:40

    Poachers should be hunted down and shot on site!

      OZNOB - 2011-09-15 22:16


  • Flarkit - 2011-09-15 06:39

    Aw man, sympathies to Neels van Rensburg. The new "muti" that poisons rhino-horn consumers must be implements as fast as possible! Teach these stupid farkers a lesson now!

  • Charlie the man - 2011-09-15 06:42

    I don't have words for this. I just can't believe that human beings can do this to these beautiful creatures. Whether they are balck or white (main brains behind the scenes) they should suffer like the mother of this calf suffered or maybe even more.

  • Marius K - 2011-09-15 07:27

    Easy to solve Remove horns from the remaining Rino pupulation, add poison in the horns and you will see after the 3rd Chinese has died they will leave our Rino horn out of their "love"potion.

      Neil - 2011-09-15 07:50

      A lot of Rhino's are being de-horned of late but that doesn't seem to stop these barbarians. They still kill for the stubs.

      GypseyAnn - 2011-09-16 14:54

      @ Neil - I agree. Nothing is sacred. They are just blood thirsty barbarians who do not deserve to breathe the same air as the rest of us who give a damn!

  • Wilma - 2011-09-15 07:40

    I hope their dicks all drop off.

      Paul - 2011-09-15 15:54

      What is wrong about using a blunt knife and turps?

  • Banana_Republic - 2011-09-15 07:43

    The poachers are small fry, of course they should be shot or arrested, but why are we having absolutely no success in catching the middlemen? Political connections?????

      Paul - 2011-09-15 15:56

      Money buys a lot of silence. Dockets get lost. Suspects get early warnings. Nothing new.

  • Valken - 2011-09-15 07:44

    The far east should give Pfizer a call and invest in some Viagra.

  • DesertConvert - 2011-09-15 08:15

    I feel for you. It's time for some drastic action if we're to save our Rhino populations.

  • ozwald - 2011-09-15 08:16

    Just shoot them and leave them in the the hell is anyone going to find them.....

  • Fred Marais - 2011-09-15 08:31

    I think amputation of a limb would be an appropriate sentence. These people make me mad.

      Proefleser - 2011-09-15 11:47

      Without anaesthetic, of course. And with a blunt knife. A small one.

  • Sogram - 2011-09-15 08:32

    I had tears in my eyes reading this story, how could any human hit a three week old calf with a panga, believe me mother nature will soon take revenge on these heartless punks.I only hope this calf will be able to survive without its mother............what is this world coming to.

  • baryn.leach - 2011-09-15 08:35

    I think you should catch them and take away their weapons and let the rhinos run them over. Be more like the hunter being hunted and make a tv show about it.

  • Jozee - 2011-09-15 08:45

    Bliksemse vuilgoed!! en ons regering doen absoluut niks nie!! hulle is 10 teen 1 deel daarvan, net soos in Zim gaan al ons wild uitsterf en opgeeet word waneer die honger jare kom.

  • Jaco - 2011-09-15 08:48

    it's time this spineless President of ours do something radical instead of just making small talk

  • Bernard Visagie. - 2011-09-15 08:50

    Poachers need to be immediately executed when caught, or shot with hunting rifle's by park rangers if seen from afar. No questions, just and immediate end of their lives. They are destroying one of our country's biggest assets. Just make sure to burn the body's as they might transfer AIDS to the animals if left to be eaten by them.

  • nefa - 2011-09-15 08:51

    OMG! there just are no words anymore!! That poor precious little creature. This has to stop! WE have to make it stop!

  • The Dude - 2011-09-15 09:30

    I think these Game farmers should shoot and kill the bastards and not tell anyone..

  • Crispy_Duck - 2011-09-15 10:31

    Humans suck.

      cookEmonster - 2011-09-16 13:40

      I'm with you on that one!

  • Proefleser - 2011-09-15 11:50

    In the Western Cape the police are organising horse patrols to combat poaching, so we can but hope that government has finally come to realise that urgent action is needed.

  • WiseWoman - 2011-09-15 11:55

    More effort is spent by our government appealing the banning of offensive slogans than poaching of rhino. Where is the anonymous tip line & TV campaigns encouraging people to speak out? Is it because they are only interested in materialism and not protecting the nations real heritage?

  • narike.lintvelt - 2011-09-15 12:25

    OK, the anger is understandable and justified, but let's remember the injured calf. Heartfelt wishes that it makes a full recovery and well done to the rescuers!

  • Hayl - 2011-09-15 12:59

    If the principle "an eye for an eye" was practised maybe this would stop. Chop the rhinos horn and we chop yours...with a panga!

  • Hayl - 2011-09-15 13:07

    Chop off the poachers horns!!!

  • Gunston500 - 2011-09-15 13:13

    Chinese ass holes!

  • GEvans - 2011-09-15 13:28

    Rhino poachers should have their noses cut off. Same way thieves have their hands cut off and sexual offenders have their penis cut off! Seems this is the only way to deal with barbarians!

  • Munya - 2011-09-15 14:02

    Idhubul i poacher....shoot the poacher,shoot the idiot!!! Cele please dhubul i poacher, shoot the zhing zhong!!!

  • Lee - 2011-09-15 14:03

    Shame...... so sad and I'm so glad the little one is ok but what future does it have if the poaching continues. I say shoot any poachers as well. They know it is illigal and if they know that farmers or game farms have been given the authority to shoot then they might think twice before harming our wild game.

  • Gail - 2011-09-15 14:22

    Well if you cannot cut off his nose, what about fingers. These thugs should be had up for treason. Our wildlife is our national heritage and they are destroying it. The police should concentrate on the big fish.

  • Gareth - 2011-09-15 14:48

    Stop killing our &@*£ing Rhinos you cowards!!! I only wish I could get you in the crosshairs of my gun!

  • Jason - 2011-09-15 15:29

    Its disgusting to hear about this, I really feel for these beautiful animals!! Cut the poachers f#cking dicks off, and let them bleed to death in the bush, and bury them.. Our Government sucks for doing nothing about this..

  • Paul - 2011-09-15 15:51

    Just let us know if you need help shooting poachers. A trenching machine is very efficient at digging graves that will never be found. If any poachers are caught alive we can get names and addresses of their principals using any methods that work. After that we use the trenching machine. It wont take long before all poaching stops.

  • Drummerboi - 2011-09-15 20:01

    This makes me so angry, I've seen these beautiful animals in the wild and i just pray that my children will see them one day too.

  • Ria - 2011-09-15 21:37

    It seems that nothing will stop these atrocities, but one thing that would definitely not help is more talking, action is called for before it is to late. People walk for lots of causes, why not get a walk organized in all towns in South Africa on World Rhino day on 22 September. After the walk every one can go and enjoy their National Braai Day. There is a challenge for all caring South Africans!

      Ollie - 2011-09-16 11:13

      And this will stop the poachers?

  • Maiavan - 2011-09-16 08:49

    Get involved! The International Anti-Rhino poaching Foundation.

  • KarenC - 2011-09-16 09:17


  • Malleus - 2011-09-16 10:14

    I would like to know the degree of collusion between poachers, synicates and government officials, including the game wardens right up to the ministries that head up this farce we call environmental affairs. It seems to me that our widelife is being shot wholesale so people like a certain youth league leader can live large in the safari lodges.

  • Ollie - 2011-09-16 11:11

    I agree shoot the poachers - the only way to stop them!!!

  • GypseyAnn - 2011-09-16 14:51

    This just makes me mad! I agree with the vet - these poachers should not be given a chance - they should just be shot on sight! Condolences to the farm owner who sounds genuinely upset by the events on his property. I too wish he could cut off their horns!

  • - 2011-09-16 15:23

    What a f*ck was he doing to end up stuck in a tree.

  • Elise - 2011-09-16 21:32

    I am so disgusted and angry at a world that can allow baby rhinos and elephants to become orphans due to human greed. How can any one justify killing the mother of this baby. When will the world realize that we are killing off entire species and in the meantime leaving defenseless babies to be unprotected and probably also die. This little one was lucky, but how many others are NOT . STOP POACHING

  • Peter - 2011-09-17 07:03

    Amputate the poachers' hands - both of them! And if they get caught again, their feet - both of them!

  • Jocelyn - 2011-09-17 07:10

    Low life scum so cruel to defensless animals this world has gone nuts no values

  • Marche - 2011-09-18 14:06

    The little baby did not make it ... he was shot in the head with a rifle but initially they didnt see the bullet hole because of the swelling and panga damage. They only found the bullet when they did the autopsy. SICK, SICK, SICK!!!!

  • Marche - 2011-09-18 14:09

    The little one did not make it: he was shot in the head with a rifle but initially they didn't see the bullet hole because of the swelling and panga damage. They only found the bullet when they did the autopsy.