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

Photo from: Stock.Xchng


William C
William C2 months ago

Thanks for caring.

W. C
W. C2 months ago

Sorry to hear this, thank you.

Phyl M.
Dai M5 years ago

kill the poachers

Andrea A.
Andrea A6 years ago

So sad. Thanks for sharing.

mary l.
mary l6 years ago

this is so sad

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener6 years ago

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

April W.
A Weber6 years ago

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.

Nicola W.
Nicola Wade6 years ago

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.

James Taylor
James Taylor6 years ago

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?

Douglas S.
Douglas S6 years ago