Three rhinos have been killed by poachers following a “ruthless” attack to remove their horns, a wildlife park in South Africa has claimed.
Two white rhino cows were found dead yesterday while a third was seriously injured when his horn was sawn off and died earlier today. It is understood that two young calves are now orphaned, prompting concerns for their safety.
In a Facebook post, the Sibuya Game Reserve wrote: “Today is a dark day as ruthless poachers invaded last night brutally killing Binky’s mother and the mother of another three month old calf. A third rhino was targeted but has been resuscitated by the vet. He’s badly injured but has been treated and we are hoping for the best.
“As both babies are suckling they still need to be fed, so have been successfully darted and are on their way to a baby rhino orphanage where we hope they will survive. All at Sibuya are devastated and heart broken.”
They posted a number of photos depicting graphic and bloody wounds on the rhinos’ faces where their horns had been hacked off.
This morning the Reserve posted an update announcing that the third rhino named Bingo has succumbed to his injuries and died. They explained that the rhino had come close to drowning during the attack by poachers and subsequently blood pressure built up in his eyes, rendering him blind. As a result he accidentally fell down hill and into a river below. They wrote: “Sadly the heartbreak continues… We spent the entire day putting rocks and branches around him to give him a foothold in the mud and cutting away at the bank so he could hopefully walk out. Sadly, although he managed to get out of the river a couple of times, he could not see the pathway despite our coaxing, calling and even prodding.
“By 6 o’clock, with the day fading and the tide coming in, it was achingly clear that he had run out of strength, unable to help himself any longer and was about to drown in the rising water. The terrible, devastating decision was taken to put him to sleep.”
It is estimated that there are around 20,000 southern white rhinos in the world. They are primarily found in South Africa and are the second largest land mammals after elephants. Despite their name, they are not white in colour but take their title from the Afrikaans word ‘weit’ which means ‘wide’ in reference to the Rhinos’ wide muzzles.
Powdered horn features in traditional Asian medicine as treatment for a variety of different conditions. Hundreds of white rhinos are killed for their horns every year. The WWF estimates that numbers have surged in recent years.