Cape Town - Pretoria's beloved Rietvlei Nature Reserve and game reserve was closed to the public over the weekend and will be closed until Tuesday, 31 May, following the slaughter and dehorning of two of its rhino by poachers over the past week. One rhino was pregnant.
The reserve, which is owned by the City of Tshwane, has also taken drastic action following the loss of the two animals. Like Mount Camdeboo in the Eastern Cape, who also lost a full-term pregnant rhino to poaching in 2015, the City of Tshwane has removed the horn of its only remaining rhino in a bid to save its life.
Tshwane spokesperson Blessing Manale says, "The horns will safely be taken by an escort of the metro police and the Saps to a place pf safety as evidence as investigations continue."
The city says the killing of the rhino has dealt a blow to its conservation efforts. Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa has also condemned the poaching at Rietvlei Nature Reserve, saying she is "hopeful that the suspects would be arrested and brought back to book".
Just last month, Molewa announced in Pretoria that a total of 363 rhino were poached in South Africa from January to April 2016. While this is an improvement on the 404 that was poached during the same period last year, the species' survival still hangs in the balance.
The poaching last week is not the first time in the reserve. In 2010, poachers also killed two rhino in the reserve, after which security was stepped up.
Volunteers, wildlife rangers and members of the public in South Africa has stepped up to protect rhinos, and their work is paying off.
WATCH: SA's rhinos are in a good state - here's why
The public has shared their disgust and heartache regarding the poaching of the Rietvlei rhinos, especially the pregnant animal, on social media.
One member on the Rietvlei Nature Reserve group on Facebook commented saying, "No words... Yesterday two rhinos were shot and their horns hacked off in the Rietvlei Nature Reserve just outside Pretoria, Gauteng in South Africa. One of the rhino was a pregnant female - it is reported that the bullet went through her and the calf simultaneously.
"In one night we therefore lost three rhino, whereas only two rhino will be sent off to be statistics in this horrible war. Please share and raise awareness of this terrible war that the five remaining rhino species in the world are fighting.
WE need to HELP them..."
If you'd like to contribute to rhino conservation, you can do it in the following ways:
Visit the national parks and nature reserves of Southern Africa. Or stay at lodges that actively contribute to rhino conservation. Organisations like Wilderness Safaris and Save the Rhino in Namibia have partnered with local communities to ensure rhinos are conserved.
Your tourism money is essential for contributing to the conservation of wilderness and wildlife, and helps creates jobs in surrounding communities who otherwise see no benefits from wildlife.
Support organisations like WildAid, who are working to reduce consumer demand in Asia.
Speak up among your friends and family. Real transformation starts with awareness, and individual change
If you suspect poaching, you can also phone the Wilderness Foundation Hotline at +27 786969494
What to read next on Traveller24:
- #ShockWildlifeTruths: Dehorning saves Camdeboo rhinos after gruesome poaching
- 5 Ways SA's rhinos are being protected - DEA
- WATCH: SA's rhinos are in a good state - here's why