A demonstration to show new anti-poaching techniques developed by an animal reserve in South Africa took a disastrous turn when the rhino used in the procedure accidently died.
The Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve in Pretoria, South Africa invited journalists and animal activists to watch the process where veterinarians inject the horn of a rhinoceros with a neon pink dye and an insecticide as well as a tracking device in order to stop poachers from killing the endangered animals.
The dye is similar to the one used by banks to mark money during robberies. The idea is to help law enforcement to identify rhino horns that may be sold on the black market. The insecticide is used to protect the animals against ticks.
Twenty rhinos have already undergone the procedure at the animal reserve without any problems.
Lorinda Hern, spokesperson for the reserve said the technique was developed to stop poachers from killing the endangered animals and taking their horns. Last year, a record 448 rhinos were poached in South Africa, so their horns could be used in traditional Chinese medicine.
The horns have become popular among middle-class Asians who believe they possess medical benefits.
Tests are underway to determine why the male rhino in his twenties died, but veterinarians think there were complications from either the sedative or the drug used to revive the animal.
Ms. Hern said, “It’s sad for us; it’s the loss of another animal. It’s a death that I still chalk up to poaching.”
Joseph Okori, a wildlife veterinarian and a World Wildlife Fund rhino expert was present for the demonstration. He said, “There is always a potention risk that a sedated animal will die.”
“The whole issue is, we are facing a serious rhino poaching crisis. This is a war. The desperation is quite high for rhino owners, to do whatever it takes to protect their rhinos,” said Okori.
Photo from ripton via flickr.