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Rhino Poachers Strike Again

Rhino Poachers Strike Again


When the South African Defense Force recently deployed units of heavily armed soldiers in the Kruger National Park, the country’s largest and most famous nature reserve, to stem the epidemic slaughter of rhinos, some conservationists predicted that this would push the poachers to attack smaller, less well protected national parks and wildlife reserves. Unfortunately, their concerns appear to be well founded.

In the early hours of Saturday morning, staff at the Aquila Private Game Reserve, located about 130 kilometers from Cape Town, discovered a badly injured white rhino bull affectionately known as Absa with his front horn removed. Evidently the poachers were busy trying to remove the animal’s second horn, but must have been surprised by the game rangers and fled the scene before they could be arrested.

Absa, who was the first rhino to be reintroduced into the Western Cape Province after the species was entirely hunted out in the region some 250 years ago, had clearly lost a lot of blood, but survived the attack. According to the veterinarian who attended to the animal, he is no longer in a critical condition.

Tragically, a second rhino, Absa’s six-year-old male offspring was subsequently found dead nearby. Both of his horns had been hacked off with machetes and a chainsaw. You can look at gruesome pictures of Absa and his butchered son here, but be warned they are not for the faint-hearted! A third rhino, a four-year-old female, was also found to have been shot with tranquilizer darts, but was not dehorned and remained otherwise unharmed.

All the evidence suggests that the poachers were professionals using sophisticated equipment. They were able to hit all three rhinos with perfect shots in the dark and used modern darts charged with a tranquilizer that is only accessible to veterinarians and by law has to be stored in a locked safe.

The international trade in rhino horn is driven by the extremely high prices paid for the material on the black market in the Far East. Until those prices drop or local authorities are able to effectively clamp down on the syndicates running the trade, chances are that the brutal slaughter of rhinos in South Africa will continue.

Andreas is a book shop manager and freelance writer in Cape Town, South Africa. Follow him on Twitter: @Andreas_Spath

Related Stories:

The Battle to Save the Rhino

UK Deal to Prevent Rhino Extinction

Rhino Horns Stolen From Museums, Sold on Black Market in Asia

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Photo from: Stock.Xchng

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9:16AM PDT on Mar 18, 2013

kill the poachers

11:56AM PST on Jan 19, 2012

So sad. Thanks for sharing.

4:40AM PDT on Sep 26, 2011

this is so sad

9:27PM PDT on Sep 18, 2011

One after the other, until none is left...

4:50PM PDT on Aug 30, 2011

This is my comment of the week. Sorry if you have read it before.

If I were Queen of the World, I would sentence to death anyone in possession of endangered animals and/or their parts (unless the people were so uncivilized that they had no idea of the endangered status - very FEW people would fall into this category). Dealing in endangered animals is ONLY about greed, selfishness, and showing off.

10:16PM PDT on Aug 28, 2011

Incase you guys weren't aware, ABSA the rhino died on thursday morning, tragically, just as they were about to move him into a more protected area. For all of us in South Africa, its gut wrenching. And just yesterday, in another province, we had another attempted poaching incident which resulted in the death of one would-be poacher and the arrest of 6 others. Please help us by creating so much noise about this that the governments can no longer ignore.

7:55PM PDT on Aug 28, 2011

Why are these places still called 'game reserves'? The definition of 'game' is "wild animals, including birds and fish, hunted for sport, food, or profit",
Isn't it time we moved on from using these outdated terms?

7:57AM PDT on Aug 28, 2011


5:48AM PDT on Aug 28, 2011

“Do not corrupt the earth ....” (Quran 7:56)

1:38PM PDT on Aug 27, 2011

bad news really feel bad about this I wish it could be stopped

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